2022 Grants Challenge

San Pedro Meals-on-Wheels Free Program

Feeding our impoverished, sick and handicapped housebound neighbors!


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

Income Inequality

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

South Bay

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?

Food Insecurity. There are people, living in our midst who are alone, with no family close by. Some of them are sick or disabled & unable to leave their homes. They are unable to cook for themselves. Many of them are also impoverished. Covid has amplified this situation. Before the pandemic we were taking care of 40 people, all of whom could afford to pay our subsidized charge. We are now taking care of 120 people, 50 of whom cannot afford to pay anything. We have another 40 on a wait list for the free program. Initially, special Covid grants were available. These are now discontinued. We do not want to abandon anyone! We (board members) have personally talked to all free-food recipients, to see if there was any way that we could move them to the subsidized program. Their stories were heart-breaking. They talked about choosing between food and needed medications. Some of them were in tears at the prospect of us having to discontinue the program.

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

Every weekday, a chef and a team of volunteers, prepare one hot and one cold nutritious meal for each of our clients. Regardless of whether they are paying the subsidized $8.50 a day or getting the food for free, everyone gets the same meals. When the meals are packaged and ready, teams of volunteer drivers and assistants turn up to collect and deliver the meals. Many of our clients are totally alone; as well as nourishing food, our volunteers supply much needed human contact. If needed, they will bring the mail in, or take the trash out. Once the meals have left our premises, the chef and volunteers, clean the kitchen, and organize for the next day’s work. We are a very lean organization. The chef and a part-time office manager, are the only paid staff. Everyone else, including the board, are volunteers. We share a kitchen with the local Presbyterian Church, for a discounted rent. We get donations of food and produce from local stores, bakeries, farmers’ markets and a local farm (yes, there is a small farm in San Pedro!). We also get cash donations from local residents and apply for any relevant grants. Other food programs are not local, and do not supply freshly made meals, nor do they give the human contact. Delivery volunteers stick to the same route, so they get to know our clients and form a relationship with them, often they are the only person that a client will see all day.

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

Our vision for success is simple: continue to take care of our housebound sick or disabled neighbors who need our help and cannot afford to pay for food. We hope that by continuing to provide meals, people will not have to make the hard choice between food and needed medication or paying the rent. Funds permitting, we would like to expand this program to include those on the waiting list. Sadly, it is unrealistic to think that in the foreseeable future, there will be no need for this program, particularly with rising food prices. Therefore, our long-term vision is the same as our short-term vision. It is our fervent hope that as a result of our work, that there will be a few less sick and homeless people in Los Angeles County.

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

San Pedro Meals on Wheels is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. Pre-Covid we were serving 40 subsidized meals a day. We are now serving 120 meals. We have expanded our program to deal with this, without taking on any additional staff. In 50 years, we have never failed to deliver food. We also provide additional small gifts for Christmas, Valentine’s day etc. On the back of the weekly menu, we print interesting facts about San Pedro, or timely quotations. Client testimonials: “I was the only cook in the family. I can’t stand now, so I can’t do any cooking. I don’t know how we would survive without them. SP MoW has very nice people.” “My doctor says, you stay on Meals on wheels, it’s changed my life, it really has.” Since I started using SP MoW I’ve gained weight, I needed to, since I left hospital. I really count on SP MoW. I mean it’s changed my life. They really know what they are doing. It’s a God-send, and the people are so nice…they’ve saved my life.”

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

Direct Impact: 50

Indirect Impact: 120