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Occupy Fights Hunger and Ralphs join to educate
Together, both organizations want to inform the community on food programs and healthy meals.
Recently, Occupy Fights Hunger (OFH), of the Occupy Los Angeles Food Committee and Hunger Action Los Angeles, in conjunction with the Department of Public Social Services (DPSS) and CalFresh program (formerly Food Stamp program) held demonstrations and shared information at Ralphs Market on Crenshaw and Rodeo.
This was the third event done in Los Angeles County, the other two being at the Mar Vista Farmers Market in June and the Vermont Farmers Market. This is a first in partnership with Ralphs and the OFH hopes to inform the community of its vital programs.
“The purpose of this event is to get low-income people the government assistance they’re entitled to,” said OFH Community Activist, Lauren Steiner. “The Occupy Movement started… after the recession.
“We saw that the banks got bailed out—and everybody [else] got sold out.”
It’s been stated that in Los Angeles County, 40% of people are eligible and take advantage of programs like CalFresh. In California, 53% of people use the food assistance program with the state being ranked 49th in the participation rate. Steiner says there are still too many people in underserved communities who aren’t aware of the programs available.
“There are 10% of L.A. County residents, that’s 1,600,000 people, who are food insecure, which means they don’t get enough to eat,” said Steiner. “It’s obvious, there is a need for this program and we’re just trying to help bring it to the public.”
CalFresh set up a mobile unit in the parking lot and two tents for demonstrations and to hand out forms and information. Gustavo Aries, Eligibility Supervisor for Metro North and CalFresh Mobil Unit commented on the day’s event and turnout.
“We’re taking CalFresh and Medi-Cal applications,” said Aries. “It’s a special event set up by [OFH].”
“It’s been one of the best turn-outs we’ve had in a while.”
Steiner explained why Ralphs was chosen as a particular partner opposed to other store, venues and farmer’s markets.
“Because of the agriculture policy in this country, unhealthy food is cheap and healthy food is expensive—low-income people aren’t shopping at Farmer’s Markets,” said Steiner. [Ralphs] reaches a lot of low-income people and even just posting flyer on their doors brought people to Ralphs.”
“These program have existed for a while but a lot of times people aren’t aware they’re out there,” said Frank Tamborello, executive Director of Hunger Action L.A. “Right now, with the recession as bad as it is, everyone should really be signing up for this program.
“This is a program the people of the United States—created for everyone to access when they’re in hard times.”
There was also a healthy cooking show demonstration and dinner from 5-7pm. Meg Taylor from ‘Large Marge Sustainable’ conducted the cooking demo. The cooking demos used fresh foods given by Ralphs to help encourage better and healthy eating habits.
Steiner was informed that 40 households were enrolled in CalFresh at the event.
For more information please visit, www.hungeractionla.org/.
Bike-powered blender makes fruit smoothies for the event.