Education, Arts & Culture

Keeping Families Fed During COVID-19

Two Volunteers help to load grocery boxes into a family’s vehicle. Los Angeles Regional Food Bank in partnership with the Los Angeles Department of Parks & Recreations and Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas host a special COVID-19 relief food distribution at East Rancho Dominguez Park. Photo by Aurelia Ventura/Board of Supervisors

An estimated 2 million people in Los Angeles County suffer from the hardship that is food-insecurity. Due to the current public health crisis and looming economic challenges, preliminary data has shown that this vulnerable population will only continue to grow much larger in the months ahead. As part of Los Angeles County’s commitment to preventing hunger and ensuring access to food for all residents, the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank in partnership with the Los Angeles Department of Parks & Recreations and Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas hosted a special COVID-19 relief food distribution at East Rancho Dominguez Park, to feed close to 1,800 families.

2nd District Board of Supervisors staff serving nearly 1,800 households during East Rancho Dominguez Park giveaway. Photo by Aurelia Ventura/Board of Supervisors

“This pandemic has been an unfortunate situation for many. Because of its depth and length, few weather the financial impact this virus has inflicted on families,” said Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas. “I am proud to partner with the LA regional Food Bank to provide food for those in need.”

Through this partnership, LA County Food Distribution Branch and LA Regional Food Bank provided more than 2,000 36-lb grocery boxes serving nearly 2,000 households. With the help of volunteers from LA County Library, LA County Sheriff Park’s Bureau, LA County Department of Public Works, LA County Department of Parks and Recreation and CEO all items were able to be distributed through a safe and contactless drive-thru process.

Volunteers help members of our community who have been impacted by the economic crisis. Photo by Aurelia Ventura/Board of Supervisors

“We are grateful to Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, Los Angeles County and all of the other partners, staff and volunteers who made today’s distribution possible,” said Michael Flood, President and CEO of the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank. “It is a critical time for us to come together and help members of our community who have been impacted by the economic crisis, and today was a great example of that.”

Among the many programs being implemented during this crisis is the Let’s Feed LA County initiative. This initiative, created in April of this year, is a program dedicated to connecting those in need to those who can help. It serves as a one-stop shop to provide support, resources and meal and voucher programs.

“We are currently mobilizing a County-wide response to hunger by coordinating public agencies, nonprofits, philanthropy, and people who just want to volunteer to help people in need find food during the weeks and months to come,” said Gary Gero, Chief Sustainability Officer, and the Director of the #LetsFeedLACounty initiative for Los Angeles County. “We know that people are suffering and that there is a tremendous need throughout LA County. We are employing every tool that we have and creating new ones to tackle hunger. We encourage anyone who is in need, to enroll in the County’s food assistance programs and to find a food distribution event in your community”.

For more information about various food program and resources please visit: www.covid19.lacounty.gov/food

 

 

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas Celebrates Asian Pacific American Heritage Month

As one of the world’s most diverse regions, Los Angeles County is home to more than 1.6 million Asian Americans and Pacific Islander Americans (AAPIA) who create it vibrant and lively communities of. In recognition of the immeasurable contributions of all those of Asian heritage the Board of Supervisors has declared the month of May as Asian Pacific American Heritage Month.

“Today we commemorate the outstanding achievements of all Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, from the physically taxing job of cultivating farmland and laboring in fisheries and factories, to the back-breaking work of building the transcontinental railroad and much of America’s infrastructure,” said Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas. “We thank you for the sacrifices and injustice you’ve endured, and for your contributions to make this County a great one.”

Building on a rich history, AAPIAs have been honored for their bravery and service in the US Armed Forces—more than 30 Asian Americans have been awarded the Medal of Freedom. One of the most dedicated units in US military history, the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, comprised of second generation Japanese American soldiers who served in World War II. Also, the Navy Fireman First Class Telesforo de la Cruze Trinidad, a Filipino, received the Congressional Medal of Honor for rescuing two men after a boiler exploded on board San Diego on 21 January 1915.

While, they have helped in building the foundation of America, they have also taken their place as captains of industry, leaders of government, and social movements, including, among many others, Chinese American fashion designer Vera Wang; Indian American business executive Indra Nooyi, former Chief Executive Officer of PepsiCo and one of the first women to lead a Fortune 500 company; and Korean American judge Herbert Choy, the first Asian American appointed to the federal bench.

Unfortunately, although there have been great advancement there also has been incredible sacrifice. AAPIAs continue to face much of the same discrimination they have experienced throughout American history. Recent reporting has shown an increase in discrimination against AAPIAs in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, a frequent challenge faced by marginalized communities who are commonly scapegoated during crisis—a painful reminder of the necessity of knowing AAPIA history and heritage.

In connection with this month’s celebration of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, the Los Angeles County Library is hosting a Virtual Film Festival where it will showcase a film from its online streaming services that residents can watch at home. All month long, The Smithsonian American Art Museum will be highlighting several California-based artists and Japanese American cultural leaders of the twentieth century.

To learn more information about the history of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, please visit: https://asianpacificheritage.gov/

County to Launch Groundbreaking Partnership to Employ and Feed Los Angeles Seniors

Governor Gavin Newsom recently launched the first-in-the-nation “Great Plates Delivered” program, a meal delivery service for California’s older adults. The County of Los Angeles will be administering this program locally, starting with a partnership between the Workforce Development, Aging and Community Services (WDACS) Department and Unite Here, Local 11’s Hospitality Training Academy (HTA).

“Since the inception of this pandemic, our elderly population has been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19,” said Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas. “This program will not only allow seniors to get the nutrition they need while staying at home, but will also provide employment opportunities for workers in the hospitality industry – one of the first sectors to lay off employees during this crisis.”

Through this partnership, individuals who are considered high risk will be able to stay home and stay healthy, all while providing an essential economic stimulus to local businesses struggling to stay afloat during this crisis. WDACS plans to utilize the HTA’s network of hotels and commercial kitchens to provide three meals a day to 1,500 individuals across the County. Ultimately, the County will expand the program to include local restaurants.

“This innovative program creates jobs for union workers to craft nutritious meals and deliver them to older adults,” said Otto Solórzano, Acting Director of the LA County Department of Workforce Development, Aging and Community Services. “This is part of our continued effort to maximize the impact of every taxpayer dollar. We are creating jobs and combating hunger at the same time.”

Unite Here Local 11 represents 31,000 members and 160 hospitality and food service employers in Los Angeles County, Orange County and Arizona. The Hospitality Training Academy provides the only hospitality/food service training program in California that focuses on union employment, providing participants with an opportunity to secure career pathways with good wages and benefits.

“Our members are trained professionals, and we see this as an opportunity to use the massive kitchens that our employers have and put them to good use,” said Susan Minato, Co-President of UNITE HERE Local 11 and Chair of the HTA. “Our members are proud to share their skills and take proper and safe care of the public in need, much like they take care of guests in the good times.”

Serving our Community is a win-win for the state and for the region; tourism is one of the largest industries in Southern California. Putting people back to work is the first step to bring back the economy of the region,” said Minato.

“I am so happy to be back to work and help provide this service for seniors in need during this crisis,” said Marisa Arellano, a cook at USC.

For more information about joining the program or to request meal delivery, please visit, wdacs.lacounty.gov or call 2-1-1 or 800-510-2020.

 

Child and Family Well-being Center Artist to Depict Local High School Students

In the heart of the Watt/Willowbrook community, on the Martin Luther King, Jr. Medical Campus, a first-of-its-kind Child and Family Well-being Center, is being built.  It will include an array of services from a Pediatric Medical Hub Clinic on the first floor, to an Autism Wellness Center on the second floor, and a Family Justice Center on the third floor—all staffed by several Los Angeles County Departments and community-based service providers to maximize collaboration and service integration.

“This is a testament to our commitment to the health needs of our children and a brighter future for all of us,” said Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas.

Sample portrait provided by Artist Floyd Strickland.

As part of this future, the multidisciplinary artist Floyd Strickland, who is leading the civic art installation at the Child and Family Well-being Center, has chosen to include the children of the Watts/Willowbrook community in his installation.  Mr. Strickland, whose work is inspired by classical European portraiture, will paint a series of large-scale portraits to depict local community members, including leaders, youth, and residents throughout the well-being center. His hope is that by displaying portraits of community members in a prominent manner, visitors and residents of the area who enter the Center will see themselves portrayed in a way once exclusively reserved for the wealthy and powerful members of society.

To select who would be featured for inclusion in the artwork, Mr. Strickland and his team worked with students at King/Drew Magnet High School on an essay competition.  The essay winners answered the following questions: What does the Watts/Willowbrook/Compton community mean to you? How can art serve as a vehicle for social justice and equity in your community? Why should you be featured in one of Floyd Strickland’s paintings?

“Today we are proud to announce the honorable mentions and winners,” Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said in a message to the winners.

LA County Department of Arts & Culture Executive Director Kristin Sakoda congratulates the winners via Instagram video.

The announcement included honorable mentions included Leyonah Jones, Jesus Carrera, and Antonio Carrera and winners Daniel Garcia, Aaliyah Casares, and Rosario Rosales.

“You stood out for your thoughtful responses and will now become part of a civic art legacy that will enrich the Child and Family Wellbeing Center and stand the test of time,” the Supervisor said.

“Congratulations to the MLK Child and Family Well-being Center Essay Competition winners and runners up,” said Kristin Sakoda, Los Angeles County Art Department Executive Director, in a video message to the winners.

In addition to being depicted in one of Strickland’s portraits, winners will receive a cash prize of $700.

The Child and Family Well-Being Center is the latest addition to the MLK Medical Campus, which includes the MLK Community Hospital, MLK Outpatient Center, MLK Mental Health Urgent Care Center, MLK Recuperative Care Center, and MLK Center for Public Health, MLK Medical Office Building, and MLK Behavioral Health Center.

Statement on the Passing of Irene Hirano Inouye

President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama look on from left as Irene Hirano Inouye, the widow of the late Sen. Daniel Inouye, is given the flag that was draped over her husband’s casket during a memorial service at the National Memorial.

I am deeply saddened to hear of Irene Hirano Inouye’s passing. Anyone who knew Irene knew she was a force of nature whose impact, over the arc of her long and storied career, isn’t just measured locally, but rather nationally and internationally.

As Executive Director of the To Help Everyone (T.H.E.) Center for Women, located in my Supervisorial District, she led in the provision of quality health care and social services to an underserved population.  As the President and CEO of the Japanese American National Museum, she established a one-of-a-kind institution that curates the unique story of Japanese Americans and their contributions.  Her leadership on building U.S. – Japan relations to further economic, humanitarian, and educational initiatives will resonate for decades to come. She was also a board member of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), the only organization founded by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Her commitment to community reminds us that though we all have distinct backgrounds and origins, we are bound in common purpose by our shared hopes and dreams for ourselves and our children that the world we leave is better than we met it.

I was honored and deeply humbled to call Irene a friend. May God bless her memory, and may her soul be bound up in the bond of eternal life.