Venice Family Clinic, a nonprofit community health center that has already exponentially increased its distribution of free and healthy food at its Santa Monica site since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, has expanded its program to provide free food to the community twice a month at its clinic in Culver City.
Starting last Thursday, the Clinic will distribute free and healthy food from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the second and fourth Thursdays of the month at its Colen Health Centers, 4700 Inglewood Blvd., No. 102, Culver City, CA 90230. The Clinic had been providing food to about 200 pregnant, pediatric and diabetic patients at the Culver City site for several months and is expanding this program to provide food to as many as 1,500 patients and members of the community.
The Clinic already serves about 1,500 people a week at its Simms/Mann Health and Wellness Center, 2509 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica, CA 90405, from 10 a.m. to noon on Tuesdays. The number of people served there has grown from about 225 per event in February to as many as 1,700 today.
“Food is medicine and that is why Venice Family Clinic committed itself to providing fresh and healthy food to our patients – and with the COVID-19 outbreak, to the broader community,” said Rigoberto A. Garcia II, Venice Family Clinic’s director of health education. “The pandemic has greatly increased the need for food for people who have lost their jobs or seen their income reduced because they’re working fewer hours. We expect the needs will grow as this health crisis continues, and we are pleased we can be there to help our patients and the community.”
Venice Family Clinic began distributing free and healthy food to patients at its Santa Monica location in November. With the COVID-19 outbreak in March, the number of people seeking food began to grow, and the Clinic expanded its Santa Monica food distributions from biweekly to weekly in May to meet the increasing needs. Garcia said 60% of the people receiving food are new clients, and 25% are from the community – they’re not Venice Family Clinic patients.
The Clinic gets its food from Food Forward, Southern California’s largest urban gleaning program. Food Forward rescues over 500,000 pounds of surplus produce each week from fruit trees, farmers markets and the Los Angeles Wholesale Produce Markets and donates it to Venice Family Clinic and other hunger relief agencies.
“We thank Food Forward and our generous donors and sponsors for making it possible for us to provide healthy food to our patients and our community,” said Garcia. “With their support, Venice Family Clinic has distributed nearly 170,000 pounds of food since the pandemic began.”
Anthem Blue Cross Medi-Cal has been one of the leaders in sponsoring the Clinic’s food distribution, providing funding and support for healthy food for the Clinic’s patients.