2022 Grants Challenge

Food Equity and Community Resilience Hub - First Phase

The Food Equity and Community Resilience Hub will improve the physical, mental and social well-being of unhoused neighbors and those most affected by Social Determinants of Health by improving access to nourishing meals in a welcoming and beautifully designed space. Along with offering access to daily meals, we’ll closely collaborate with other nonprofits to provide critical on-site connections to health and homelessness prevention and rehousing services.


Please list the organizations collaborating on this proposal.

Food For Soul

What is the primary issue area that your application will impact?

Housing and Homelessness

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

Central LA

East LA

San Fernando Valley

City of Los Angeles

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

Expand existing project, program, or initiative

What is your understanding of the issue that you are seeking to address?

Accessing critical services is a complicated and fragmented process for members of our community experiencing homelessness or at risk of losing housing.The current safety net model often places the burden for accessing services on those in need, especially unhoused neighbors and neighbors experiencing severe poverty.LA has also the largest food-insecure population in the nation at over 2 mil. people and there is evidence that food insecurity is the most common experience among those accessing or in need of accessing the social safety net. When they are unable to utilize services, they are labeled “service resistant.” We are evaluating the effectiveness of applying the values of responsiveness, consistency, choice and community at the core of our food service model to a broader range of social services.We will leverage a high-quality meal program to not only reduce food insecurity, but more effectively connect people to the social safety net and facilitate long-term health improvement.

Describe the project, program, or initiative this grant will support to address the issue.

Our Dinner has operated 7 nights a week since 1987,welcoming anyone who is hungry.We are a "no barrier" organization and are often community members' first experience with the social safety net when they first become unhoused.All of the ingredients used to prepare our meal are rescued from local businesses and food producers through our Exchange program,which also distributes millions of pounds of edible food diverted from landfill to 125 other non-profits in LA County. Our Wellness program offers no barrier access to essential basic needs like clothing and hygiene items ,as well as social services provided in collaboration with other non-profits, including housing navigation,healthcare services,public benefit enrollment,and financial services.We serve the most vulnerable members of the community: the unhoused,working poor,foster and transitional-aged youth,families,seniors,LGBTQ+ community,people with disabilities,veterans,the formerly incarcerated,domestic violence survivors,and people in addiction recovery. Our vision is to better integrate our programs through a restaurant and community hub where neighbors can access high-quality food,housing resources,healthcare,employment training,education,and art,in a dignified and comfortable environment. Ultimately,we will demonstrate the efficacy of an integrated service model that prioritizes personal choice, strong customer service,and consistency,to build bridges that make the social safety net more accessible to those in need.

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

The hub will improve the food security, health and safety for thousands of unhoused and low-income community members in LA,many of whom already rely upon us for regular meals and services.This project will allow us to expand our capacity to provide meals and additional services to reduce or prevent homelessness, enabling us to reach many more underserved community members.Service providers in LA agree that the limited and decentralized resources for food, housing and health services would be improved by a community center that provides healthy meals in tandem with other services, has no barriers to access, and is open 7 days a week.We will create a more seamless integration between our meal program and social safety net programs, through measurable touchpoints.Participant records in our internal database will be used to track touchpoints and progress with accessing housing and health services.Our impact will strengthen the resiliency of our community, our food system and food security.

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

At the onset of the pandemic,we saw an immediate 63% increase in dinner guests,with some nights reaching well over 300 persons.In 2021 we served over 83,000 meals,a 30% increase since 2020.Our programs operate on a model that can quickly scale up or down depending on emergency needs. Each year, we rescue millions of pounds of food that would otherwise end up in landfills, contributing to significant CO2 emissions.The variety of rescued ingredients allows our chef to create a choice of healthy, nutritionally complete meals,which are the first step in building trust with our nightly guests. Leveraging the trust built by the consistency, quality, and accessibility of our Dinner, our Wellness program connected 340 dinner guests in the last year with off-site services like housing, healthcare, ID documents, emergency housing vouchers, employment opportunities and stimulus checks. In total, we’ve had 1,023 touchpoints,a fraction of what could be done with a permanent Community Resilience Hub

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

Direct Impact: 500

Indirect Impact: 2,000

Describe the specific role of the partner organization(s) in the project, program, or initiative.

HoFoCo will co-develop and operate the new FECR Hub,continuing the work underway through the expansion of the established Dinner, Wellness and Exchange programs,and further developing our existing core ideal of “food as medicine”,and as the entry point to providing the critical services and community connections necessary for social well-being. Food For Soul will support the fundraising efforts and provide guidance and guidelines for the ideation,design,development and execution of the hub,based on trauma-informed and biophilc design principles and built for energy efficiency. Together,we will focus on shared outcomes that improve food utilization and access with dignity and sense of belonging for those most vulnerable,strengthening both the resiliency of our food system and food security.