It's National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week, an event started at Villanova University 44 years ago and today sponsored by the National Coalition for the Homeless and the National Student Campaign Against Hunger and Homelessness. This event is held the week before Thanksgiving and used to draw public attention to the issue of poverty and encourage people to donate their time, attention, and resources to others.
In this spirit, here are 11 organizations working to combat hunger and homelessness in Los Angeles, and how you can get involved:
- LIFT-Los Angeles works to empower families to break the cycle of poverty through one-on-one career and financial coaching. You can get involved by being a volunteer, donating or attending an event.
- Venice Community Housing is a solutions-based community organization that provides low-income and permanent supportive housing, youth programming, as well as resident and homeless services to those in need in Venice, which has long been a highly diverse community. They're currently looking for donations and volunteers for their annual Thanksgiving feast.
- Proyecto Jardin promotes awareness of the indigenous roots of sustainable agriculture and aims to build a grassroots movement for community food sovereignty that will create an equitable and sustainable regional food system. You can compost with them every Wednesday evening, or sign up to volunteer with their parent organization, Hunger Action Los Angeles.
- United Way's Everyone In is a community movement that aims to keep Los Angeles on track to ending its homelessness and housing crisis through building public and political will across the county for affordable and supportive housing. They regularly conduct training and storytelling sessions in various neighborhoods to open discussions on humanizing homelessness.
- Downtown Women's Center is the only organization in Los Angeles that focuses exclusively on serving and empowering women who are either formerly homeless or currently experiencing homelessness through offering permanent supportive housing, workforce development, and health programs. They're looking for both individual and group volunteers to assist with their center.
- Covenant House California is a youth homeless shelter that provides support for homeless and trafficked youth aged 18-24. You can sign up to volunteer with them, attend their upcoming Thanksgiving dinners, download their flyer on how to help homeless youth in your area, or apply to join their Associate Board for Young Professionals.
- World Harvest is a food bank that partners with food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters, and youth after-school programs to distribute high-quality food to underserved communities, thereby reducing food waste and eliminating hunger. They're looking for both individual and group volunteers.
- Union Rescue Mission is a faith-based organization that provides comprehensive care for men, women, and children experiencing homelessness through continuous emergency shelter services, transitional and permanent supportive housing, free health and legal-aid services, an educational center, and more. Beyond volunteering, you can donate to or shop at their thrift store, participate in an Urban Experience, distribute Outreach Kits, and more.
- Rise, Inc. is a student-led organization working to end student hunger and homelessness in Los Angeles by empowering student advocates to test, iterate, and scale various strategies. They're currently accepting applications for their LA2050 Student Organizing Fellowship.
- The Midnight Mission offers men, women, and children experiencing homelessness paths to self-sufficiency through recovery services, counseling, education, training, workforce development, and continued care services. They're looking for volunteers to help with meal service in their kitchen, making food boxes and hygiene kits, and more. Large groups can assist with distributing food bags and donated clothing at their Thanksgiving meal.
- Chrysalis is a social enterprise that provides homeless and low-income individuals with the resources and support needed to find and retain employment. You can sign up to participate in their Thanksgiving 5k, join their Kaleidoscope Giving Circle, or volunteer to assist their clients with overcoming barriers to employment.