Food Drive Tips

This weekend is the Stamp Out Hunger , letter carriers food drive. 

Here are some tips to make your donations go as far as possible: 

Food Drive tips

It may be awhile before your food is sorted so please donate items that do not need to be refrigerated before being given out.

Breakable items tend to break and squishable items like bread had to get squished so make sure your packaging is sturdy.

You might love sardines and other Specialty Foods, but we don’t know what the people who are receiving the food will like. Common and traditional food are the best donations because they can  be given out to most anyone.

Donating things may make you feel really great and it is a good opportunity to clean out your cabinets of food that you fight but me never eat. With that in mind, please check the expiration dates on your food because we cannot donate food that has already expired.

Can We Talk About Food?

Food Insecurity  – it is a fancy way for saying “I could go hungry or be unable to feed my family”.

Food is a main part of human budgets. Food is fuel, medicine, community, and comfort – but without food, a person will surely die. Almost 13% of Americans are “Food Insecure”.

  • Food insecurity: “Limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate and safe foods or limited or uncertain ability to acquire acceptable foods in socially acceptable ways.” (Cook & Frank, 2008, p. 193)
    • Low food security: reduced quality and variety of diets
    • Very low food security: disruption of normal eating patterns and hunger
  • The risk of food insecurity extends to people living above the federal poverty level
    • Ineligible for assistance programs
    • Competing expenses (e.g. rent, utilities)

I try not to come  to you with a problem without showing you a solution.


This is my back yard. That is a 4×8 garden bed with soil that is a mix of mulch, exploded rock and soil.


It was assembled by volunteers from MEND. (This is my front yard and driveway. Yes, I helped too.) The green barrel is filled with the results of my attempt to clean up before they came.

MEND and other Food Banks give out boxes of food, and that is awesome. What could be better? Having a measure of self sufficiency is better. Being able to grow my own food, control the chemicals on the food, and teaching my child to garden . . . that is better!

Every Tuesday I am in a “Gardening Class” and I have learned all the parts of plants, how to recognize pests, ways to mix plants and how to water. I have seedlings sprouting on my kitchen window preparing to transplant.


Jackey of
Jackey of the VISTA program photographing how I topped the metal stakes.

Usually these go in soil, but my back yard is mostly pavement so the metal stakes stick up, and were hard to see so I topped them with Rubber Ducks. Yep, I am a mommy and the urge to baby proof doesn’t fade.

Chef Adam and a volunteer shaking hands after a job well done. 

MEND and the California Master Gardeners are building these and teaching classes to the owners. I am excited to see how well this works and will keep you updated.

I can’t always control my income, but I can control some part of the access to food my family has so we won’t be insecure.

The Importance of Food to Health

Food is a necessary ingredient to sustaining human life. It is also culturally defined the community experience, a family gathering point, personal history, exercise and activity, a component of wellness, a social event, currency, crafts, and employment. (Paraphrased from Chef Richard Weinroth)

Food is expensive – even with coupons and food stamps. It is even more expensive if you don’t ave a lot of money and do not qualify for this type of assistance.  I was at MEND (I know, you are not shocked) asking the staff how they address this for their clients.

  1. The Food Bank
  2. The Food Pantry (where other food banks come for food)
  3. The Hot Lunch Program
  4. Homeless Food Bags
  5. Diabetic Food Boxes
  6. Home Gardening Program
  7. La Collectiva
  8. Kid’s Food Education
  9. Cooking Classes

It seems they have already given this some thought.

I am a terrible gardener. This is just another painful reminder that I am adopted because my parents and grandparents and great grandparents all have had meaningful and fruitful (see what I did there?) relationships with plants. With that in mind, and because I feel comfortable at MEND, I gave #6 a hard look and decided to try the Home Gardening Program.

Created with Microsoft Fresh Paint
Hibiscus flower organs up close. It has boy and girl parts . I am glad it doesn’t shop at Target. 


I took notes in the most Sonya way ever, I drew.

I have to say that they take this seriously and I already planted 4 different types of seeds. NExt I have to schedule a home site visit to see if I have room for a 4×8 garden plus soil delivery . I have 3 more weeks of classes.

Tell me why you this this might be a good or bad idea.

Homeless Showers

The San Fernando Valley  Rescue Mission and MEND combining  together to bring hygiene and dignity to our neighbors who don’t have access to soap, water and privacy.

#peoplehelpingpeople #mendpoverty 

I Need a New T-shirt . . .

AKA – if you donate to @MENDpoverty and tell them I sent you : I can have a new shirt and your TAX Deductible donation will be Doubled! Don’t feel you have to break the bank – even a $2 donation is cool with me.

Write my name on the screen
this is where you say my name . you can write my name, or website, or just “Tell Sonya Hello!”
Please help us reach our year end goal by donating to MEND! Refer four

friends from now until June 30th to give a total of $100 and win a limited edition t-shirt designed by our friends at Big Citizen HUB.

Remember that any donation we receive by June 30th will be doubled, thanks to a matching gift by a generous donor!
Join us in breaking the bonds of poverty and paving a pathway to self-reliance for our neighbors in need.

For an even better time, you can write things like ” I love Tarry ”  ( she is in charge of fundraising ) , “Scott looks great in a tie ” ( he is the math wiz doing the budgets ) or something else fun.

To End Poverty, we need to Mend Poverty. We can meet each need with dignity!”

Pacoima Food Pantries

Note: Pantry distribution dates and times are subject to change. Please call the pantry to verify that this information is current. Most pantries serve according to geographical service area. Food pantry clients should bring photo identification with them to the pantry. The identification should show client’s current residential address. Some pantries have an application process and ask clients for documents supporting income. However, all clients will be served the first time regardless of completion of application and service area.
Total 4 pantries found.
1. Cornerstone Christian Ministry
11449 Sproule Avenue
Pacoima,  91331
Distribution Time: Thursday 9:00:00 AM 10:00:00 AM
2. Eliza Shanks Homes, Inc.
13055 Weidner Street
Pacoima,  91331
Distribution Time: Monday 9:00:00 AM 5:00:00 PM By Appointment
Tuesday 9:00:00 AM 5:00:00 PM By Appointment
Wednesday 9:00:00 AM 5:00:00 PM By Appointment
Thursday 9:00:00 AM 5:00:00 PM By Appointment
Friday 9:00:00 AM 5:00:00 PM By Appointment
Friday 9:00:00 AM 5:00:00 PM 4th
3. Meet Each Need with Dignity – MEND
10641 San Fernando Road
Pacoima,  91331
Distribution Time: Tuesday 8:00:00 AM 2:00:00 PM
Thursday 8:00:00 AM 2:00:00 PM
Friday 8:00:00 AM 2:00:00 PM
Saturday 9:00:00 AM 12:00:00 PM
4. Valley Crossroads SDA Church
11350 Glenoaks Blvd.
Pacoima,  91331
Distribution Time: Saturday 2:30:00 PM 4:00:00 PM 2nd & 4th

Pacoima , Facebook, and a man on the streets


Homelessness is real  a nd affects everyone. Here, in Pacoima, this man is a fixture on a local street. The Facebook group for the neighborhood is learning the worst of all truths about homelessness: there is no easy cure.

There are no available shelter beds.
We can’t find a place for him to sleep
MEND doesn’t open for Homeless services until Tuesday.

211 has been called.
LAHSA has been called.
Foothill Police Division has been called.

He us still on the street.

The wonderful people here have brought him food and clothes and kept him company.

But even with a whole city behind him :we can’t cure his homelessness.

His name is Jose. I want to know what Jose wants to do. Does he want to be housed? If so, where?

How to Ruin Your FoodStamp Budget

costcoMore on my MEND Poverty #Foodstampchallenge to #stopSummerHunger

Well, to begin with, it turns out that since 2009 Costco has accepted the EBT cards as payment in their stores. so YAY. ”

  • Payment
  • • We welcome cash,* checks,* debit/ATM cards,** Costco
  • Cash Cards, Costco Credit Cards**, EBT Cards and
  • American Express Cards.** Checks may require picture
  • identification and approval by a supervisor or manager.
  • * Not accepted at Costco Gas Stations.
  • ** Not accepted at Costco Food Courts.”

On the down side; all the best planning in the world does nothing if you leave a 2 year old home in the care of a 43 year old who lets the 2 year old feed herself out of the refrigerator.

Darla made her way through 2 bananas and 3 baggies of fruit and 3 tubs of precooked meals – thus throwing off my weekly plan. But, we will regroup and stay the course.

I imagine this happens to many households with kids. They grow – they get hungry – they EAT and eat and EAT.

Pizza and Mojo Potatoes to Stop Summer Hunger

Shakey’s and MEND – bring summer hunger to an end
July 9th*** (Thursday) at Shakey’s Sylmar – 13701 Foothill Blvd., Sylmar, CA 91342
August 19th (Monday) at Shakey’s Northridge – 10340 Reseda Blvd., Northridge, CA 91326
MEND will receive 20% of your food purchases (not including beverages).

***Join MEND staff and their families between 6-8 PM on July 9th.

Thank you for supporting MEND!

Cal Fresh Awareness Month

Cal Fresh Awareness
Cal Fresh Awareness

Food Stamps, SNAP, Cal-Fresh . . .
All different names for the same thing : letting low-income people purchase food, fresh food, frozen food, fruits and vegetables, milk and juices and meats to stay alive, alert and to keep on going while they experience the type of poverty that would keep them choosing:
Food or electricity.
Food or medication.
Food or new shoes.

Cal Fresh Awareness

Who needs Cal-Fresh?
Fixed income Grandmas and Grandpas
Single parents
The underpaid employees
The Under-employed
Families who are fostering children to save them from the streets
Families living in the streets

Nearly 72 percent of SNAP participants are in families with children; more than one-quarter of participants are in households with seniors or people with disabilities.

—– is it a good program or just tossing money in the trash? —- SNAP and other nutrition programs have helped make severe hunger in America rare.  Before the late 1960s, when the federal government began providing nutrition assistance, hunger and severe malnutrition could be found in many low-income communities in the United States. Today, in large part because of these programs, such severe conditions are no longer found in large numbers.

To promote efficiency, SNAP has one of the most rigorous quality control systems of any public benefit program.  Its error rates stand at record lows; fewer than 2 percent of SNAP benefits are issued to households that do not meet all of the program’s eligibility requirements.

Giving low income people the purchasing power to buy food keeps them from depending so much on School Lunches and Food Banks.


MEND Poverty (Meet Each Need with Dignity)  in Pacoima is doing an outreach attempt to enroll participants in the program.