The Issue: Cycle of Homelessness
In 2011, more than 23,500 individuals in the city of Los Angeles were homeless, according to a report from the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority. Yet, according that same report, that number represents a 9% decrease from just two years before. When people become locked in the cycle of chronic homelessness, achieving self-sufficiency can seem like an impossible goal. But with access to adequate clothing and nutritious meals, as well as the empowerment that comes from small achievements, it is possible.
The Campaign: Funding Grocery-Store Gift Cards
If 50 people donate $10, then Food on Foot can distribute 100 $10 grocery-store gift cards to people experiencing homelessness who participate in its Work for Food program, thanks to matching donations from Blowfish Shoes. Donations will be matched up to $500. Clients in the Work for Food program spend two hours picking up trash on preestablished routes in the Hollywood area. As payment, Food on Foot distributes $10 grocery-store gift cards and warm meals, rewarding the work in an awards-style ceremony. The program serves 30 individuals every week, helping them to take their first steps toward independence. Each additional $10 raised will provide a $10 gift card to another person in the Work For Food program.
All donations will be matched up to a $500 total by Blowfish Shoes.
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Food on Foot
In 1996, Food on Foot set up on the steps of the Hollywood Post Office, delivering its first chicken dinner out of the trunk of a car to neighbors experiencing homelessness. The organization quickly expanded and began serving meals every Sunday to increase food security among underserved residents. Today, Food on Foot serves that same meal of chicken, rice, and tortillas every week, as well as a variety of healthy snacks including granola bars, baby carrots, fresh fruit, and bottled water. It also distributes gently used clothing, shoes, and sleeping bags and business clothes for clients who have secured job interviews.
In 1999, Food on Foot began its Work for Food program, wherein volunteers pick up trash in the Hollywood area. Each volunteer fills two garbage bags and receives a $10 grocery-store gift card, healthy snacks, and a chicken dinner in return. After participating in the program for two months, volunteers are placed on a daily route to pick up trash while the program staff works to help them acquire a full-time job. Once participants find a job, Food on Foot funds an apartment, utilities, and transportation for three months while they become established in their new position. During this time, workers continue their daily trash route and turn in their paychecks to Food on Foot. At the end of the three-month period, they receive the uncashed checks to open a savings account.