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Southern California Weekly Funders’ Discussion on COVID 19 - March 26 : Resources and Notes

Publication date: 
Thursday, March 26, 2020

The purpose of the Weekly Calls is to create a platform through which funders in Southern California can share how they are responding to COVID-19, collectively identify unmet needs, help funders connect and align with one another, and discover how SCG can support your work. 


  • Michael Flood, President & CEO, Los Angeles Regional Food Bank
  • Javier Hernandez, Director, Inland Coalition for Immigrant Justice
  • Ann Sewill, Vice President, Health & Housing, California Community Foundation



Los Angeles Regional Food Bank (LARFB)

Michael Flood, President & CEO
[email protected] 

  • Spike in Demand: Typically, the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank provides assistance to approximately 300,000 people through their food distribution program. Last week, with the hour-cuts and layoffs, their distribution hit a record high of 1.6 million pounds of food out the door-- a 38% increase in comparison to last March. 
  • New Drive-Thru Program: LA Regional Food Bank has transitioned its mobile food pantry program to a drive-thru program in an effort to meet this new demand and support partner agencies who are feeling tremendous pressure. Through this program, they’ve been able to provide food assistance to 700-900 families during 3-hour windows. 
  • Restoring Faith-Based Sites: With the statewide ordinances surrounding public gatherings, many faith-based sites are no longer holding services, and around 50 sites have halted their food distribution services. LARFB is working to inform faith sites that they can continue their food distribution programs if they comply with the CDC’s guidelines. 
  • Assisting Seniors & Schools: The LARFB is working with partners to expand last-mile services to provide home-delivery to seniors who need food assistance. They have also partnered with LAUSD to provide food assistance at Hoover Elementary School. They hope to help augment the Grab n’ Go program, which only provides food assistance to students by also providing food assistance to entire families. They hope to have this plan finalized by today or tomorrow. 
  • The Decline of Volunteerism: Many of LARFB’s volunteers come from companies, high schools, eligible organizations, and faith-based organizations. There’s been a sharp decline in volunteers because many companies and organizations have shut down, people are concerned about insurance policies covering this situation, or people are generally hesitant to be around others during this time. However, LARFB assures everyone that they are following all guidelines and precautions set by the CDC around social distancing and that people can safely volunteer. Currently, LARFB needs more volunteers to help with its distribution sites, drive-thru programs, senior-delivery services, and the future LAUSD distribution partnership.  


Inland Coalition for Immigrant Justice (ICIJ)

Javier Hernandez, Director
[email protected]

  • Working with Detained Populations: The outbreak has shut down the Adelanto Detention Center, and the facility is no longer allowing families and visitors to enter the premises. Detainees are only allowed to see their attorneys for 20-minute intervals and must communicate with them through glass partitions. Detainees are feeling isolated and do not have money to call or send video messages to their families. ICIJ is using its limited funds to help detainees call their loved ones, but funds and capacity are low. 
  • Releasing At-Risk Detainees: ICIJ is working to help release older folks, people with underlying health issues, and other high-risk individuals from detainment centers. Some detainees are ready to sign deportation paperwork because they’re in isolation or are afraid that COVID-19 could make its way into the detention center. ICIJ has started a Bond Fund, but the costs are extremely high and funds are limited. They might be able to help one person be released next week, but they’re working with the centers to try and increase the number. 
  • Providing Basic Services Upon Release: One someone is released, they are in need of basic resources like transportation, housing, food, medical care, and more. As ICIJ works to increase the number of detainees released, they are hoping to partner with local governments and organizations to keep this population safe and provide needed support services. 
  • Supporting Families of Detainees: ICIJ also has a fund to support the families of individuals who have been detained so they can meet their basic needs, including rent, food, and other bills. Currently, they are having a difficult time buying food because of the food shortage in stores. They are also experiencing fewer food donations, likely because people are feeling uncertain about their own long-term needs. ICIJ is advocating for a moratorium on evictions until this crisis has passed. 
  • Supporting Undocumented Populations: ICIJ is advocating for all counties and organizations to provide basic supports for undocumented people. Some food bank sites were requiring that people present IDs in order to get access to food. ICIJ has been in touch with and successfully requested that, in these cases, sites wave this requirement for the time being.ICIJ is also working to educate undocumented people around available services because many folks are nervous that resources are connected to the government and activate the Public Charge Rule. 
  • Comprehensive Resource Guide: ICIJ is currently translating many of the resource lists started by other organizations into Spanish. Additionally, ICIJ is developing its own resource guide to help inform people where they can access basic services like food, healthcare, shelters, and more. They are hoping to create a hotline to direct immigrant communities to resources that they can then advertise publicly (i.e., on radio stations). 


California Community Foundation

Ann Sewill, Vice President, Health & Housing
[email protected]

  • Varying Degrees of Support: In the last two weeks, CCF has received $9 million from donors. In the last week, CCF approved $1.7 million in grants primarily aimed at housing and homelessness, health services for uninsured people, and education by providing basic services to families who don’t have access to essential supports. CCF has noted fewer donations from the general public, likely because people are uncertain about their own circumstances during this outbreak. 
  • Expanding Giving to Nonprofits: CCF is augmenting it’s “Pass It Along Fund” for nonprofits to provide hardship grants to individuals. Historically, these have been one-time, short-term grants, but donors have asked for them to be expanded in order to account for rapidly changing short-term needs. 
  • Elevating Grantee Perspectives: CCF is connecting with all of its grantees working across all funding areas to capture what they see on the ground and current grantee experiences. CCF has learned that grantees are struggling with accessing multiple funds because they have to go to various places. CCF is trying to coordinate and clarify funds for the grant-seeking public. 
  • Philanthropy’s Role: COVID-19 is both an economic disaster and a medical disaster that will likely hit the United States harder than the Great Recession. Philanthropy needs to think strategically around supporting the most impacted workers (i,.e. hourly, gig-based, etc.) and align with state and federal governments to ensure that these populations are not left out of policy and legislation. 


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