2021 Grants Challenge

Serving Our Community

“Serving Our Community” provides healthy, nutritious, and delicious meals to at-risk people affected by the COVID-19 pandemic by re-employing laid-off hotel and event center culinary professionals in good union jobs with benefits to prepare and package food for delivery. Since May 2020 we have brought back to work more than 1,100 people and fed more than 3.3 million meals to nearly 10,000 home-bound seniors, low income families, people experiencing homelessness, survivors of domestic violence or human trafficking.


In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

Central LA

East LA

San Gabriel Valley

San Fernando Valley

South LA


South Bay

Antelope Valley

County of Los Angeles

What is the problem that you are seeking to address?

The spread of the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 (“COVID-19”) has profoundly disrupted social and economic life throughout the world. These losses and costs are not equally distributed. The effects of the virus have been concentrated in economically disadvantaged and minority communities, and in industries where these individuals work. In 2019, 1 out of every 8.5 County residents were employed in the travel, tourism & hospitality industry, which was all but completely shut down because of the pandemic, leaving hundreds of thousands out of work. The pandemic has also made providing services to the most vulnerable communities, such as those affected by food insecurity a far greater challenge, with a spike in need at the same time as decreases in supply of human resources able to gather to meet demand.

Describe the project, program, or initiative that this grant will support to address the problem identified.

In March 2020, HTA and UNITE HERE Local 11 launched “Serving Our Community,” (SOC) in collaboration with shuttered hotels and event centers to reopen their industrial kitchens and re-employ laid-off union members, representing LA's finest culinary staff to produce safe, healthy and delicious meals for our most vulnerable during the pandemic. SOC partners with the City of LA Dep of Aging, LA County WDACS, LAHSA, and others to provide and deliver meals to those who do not otherwise have access to food. (i.e. homebound seniors and shelters for the homeless and/or survivors of domestic violence and human trafficking). As HTA and its partner hotels have extensive experience in banquet, cafeteria, and event catering, with SOC we are able to produce thousands of high-quality meals daily. Using our employer partners' industrial kitchens which comply with federal, state, and county health protocols, including, but not limited to, physical distancing, disinfection, and contact tracing. HTA offers a holistic solution encompassing every aspect of SOC, from training to HR, ordering, food preparation, packaging, delivery, and accounting/reporting oversight. The Local 11 members preparing meals are protected by collective bargaining agreements with living wages, comprehensive health/dental care, defined-benefit pensions and continuous professional development training. So far, we have provided over 3.3 million meals, nearly 10,000 people, and employed 1,100+ people.

In what stage of innovation is this project, program, or initiative?

Expand existing project, program, or initiative

Approximately how many people will be impacted by this project, program, or initiative?

Direct Impact: 95

Indirect Impact: 300

Describe how Los Angeles County will be different if your work is successful.

During these challenging times, as the pandemic remains a high threat throughout Los Angeles County, those most vulnerable in our communities not only continue to be unemployed or underemployed, but also will most likely be the last to bounce back from the recession. As these people struggle to survive and make ends meet, they shouldn’t have to decide do they pay the last little bit of money to their landlord to cover rent or do they use for basic/essential necessities for themselves and their family such as buying groceries and putting food on their tables. Accordingly, with support from the My LA2050 Grants Challenge, we can make a difference in the lives of 95 families in great need throughout Los Angeles so that they don't have to make that impossibly hard decision and can weather this storm and get back on their feet.

What evidence do you have that this project, program, or initiative is or will be successful, and how will you define and measure success?

We are measuring the program's impact not only with the numbers of meals served and the good union jobs that the program creates, but also from testimonials from participants in the program, both recipients of meals and workers who have a job thanks to the program.

Describe the role of collaborating organizations on this project.

Food will be cooked and packaged by the employees at Pomona College, Westin Bonaventure Hotel & Suites, JW Marriott Los Angeles LA Live, Levy Restaurants at the LA Convention Center, Sheraton Grand Los Angeles and The Beverly Hilton, who are members of Unite Here Local 11. HTA will oversee and coordinate the project including training of employees,sourcing packaging, coordination of delivery, and accounting/reporting oversight.

Which of the LIVE metrics will you impact?​

Access to healthy food

Food insecurity

Resilient communities