$400/week for groceries? Food banks step in to help more Angelenos

By Andrea Bautista

Volunteers with East Side Riders Bike Club give out boxes of food every Wednesday at their Watts location. Lately they’ve seen more demand as inflation drives up food prices. Photo courtesy of East Side Riders Bike Club President John Jones III.

As inflation continues to rise, more Angelenos are seeking out food assistance. The Los Angeles Regional Food Bank initially saw a dip in demand at the beginning of this year, says CEO Michael Flood, but by March the amount of food they handed out was up 38% over January, as high as it was a year ago. Flood says he sees no signs the demand is slowing.

Watts resident Paola Cruz recently hit up a weekly drive-thru and walk-up food giveaway at East Side Riders Bike Club in Watts. Cruz says she's been buying healthier food for her five children after their pediatrician told her they needed to go on a diet. But Cruz explains all that food can add up. 

“It's more pricey because healthy food is expensive. So I'm wasting probably like about $400 a week in just healthy food,” she says. “Having food banks around, it's really helpful for me … because it mostly has vegetables, fruits, and things that is healthy for them.”

John Jones III, president of the East Side Riders Bike Club, says the rising cost of food is tough even for people who get financial assistance from the state. “Some people are regular because they just can't afford groceries, they go to work every day, they still get help through CalFresh, and they still can't make it through the month,” he says. 

Jones says with schools out for the summer, he anticipates even more demand, as families that depend on free school lunches find their way to food banks to keep their children fed.