COVID-19 has created new challenges for our partners, who are seeing more folks seeking food assistance than ever before. Thanks to our partners Totally Local VC, Food Forward established the Ventura Rapid Response Hub, part of our emergency response to the increased need caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ventura County Branch Manager Ally Gialketsis (left) and Local Love deliver several pallets of fruits and vegetables to the Santa Paula Unified School District.
The Ventura Rapid Response Hub is an emergency produce distribution hub in partnership with Totally Local VC’s Local Love Project (Local Love). Local Love activates and organizes community members to provide immediate aid in the aftermath of a disaster affecting Ventura County. It started in response to the devastation caused by the Thomas Fire in 2017 and has continued to support Ventura County through the COVID-19 crisis. Food Forward’s Ventura Branch has partnered with Local Love to provide fresh fruits and vegetables to agencies that are feeding families in Ventura County.
Many food assistance agencies have made adjustments or temporarily suspended services due to COVID-19. For organizations that are still open, the increase in demand has been huge—some report three or four times their typical amount of clients at food distributions.
Cilantro, kale, cantaloupe, raspberries, and more were given to Ventura residents at a recent food distribution.
Food Forward launched five new “Rapid Response Hubs” in April to ensure communities across Los Angeles and Ventura counties have access to fresh fruits and vegetables. These hubs are a direct response to the increased need in neighborhoods most affected by the loss of services. Having a reliable source of free, high-quality fruits and vegetables can help ease the burden of new financial stressors for many throughout Southern California. At each location, a truckload of recovered produce is quickly distributed to multiple agency partners, who in turn distribute this food to their clients.
One agency receiving produce from the Ventura Rapid Response Hub is Turning Point Foundation. Among other services, Turning Point Foundation provides individuals experiencing homelessness and/or living with mental illness with basic needs like food and clothing. Since the pandemic’s onset, procuring enough food for their clients has been difficult. Suki Sir at Turning Point Foundation says “Food Forward is our savior! Without the work Food Forward is doing to get us produce through the hub, my residents would be in a really bad place with food insecurity.”
A family poses with fruits and vegetables at a distribution in Ventura County.
The Ventura Rapid Response Hub is one of the ways we are supporting food access in Ventura County. To learn more about our response to COVID-19, click here.