Students and faculty members worked with the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank every Saturday from Aug. 29 to Sept. 19, serving food to an increasingly impoverished population around the metropolitan Los Angeles area. For the past forty years, the organization has distributed more than a billion pounds of food to over 1 million individuals throughout Los Angeles County, according to the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank’s website.
Community Service Director Mr. Tom Zeko said, “The Los Angeles Regional Food Bank is a necessary resource to support the agencies, churches, missions, shelters, and community groups that feed the homeless, the working poor, and the retired poor.”
Throughout the four service days, students worked in different parts of the warehouse and had different tasks each week such as forming and taping boxes for food delivery, packing boxes with bread, and sorting produce into bags.
Loyola has been involved with the organization for 10 years. Mr. Zeko said, “I have recently raised its profile because of the increasing issue of hunger and food deprivation for kids and mothers with dependent children, the working poor, and retired poor continues to grow.”
Physics teacher Mr. James Warren chaperoned students at the food bank on Sept. 12 and said, “The organization and size of the site is very impressive. The fact that in one day we packed over 80,000 meals really shows what a valuable organization it is for people who live in the area.”
Science teacher Mrs. Kimberly Simon supervised on Sept. 5 at the food bank and said, “They serve the Los Angeles homeless community exceptionally well. They use their volunteers very well, and we were busy every minute we were there.” The pace that the food bank places on its volunteers is very fast in order to distribute as much food as possible. Mrs. Simon said, “The students were incredibly dedicated and committed to working the full four hours.”
One of the core values that the school focuses on is service. The school’s aspect on service hopes to mold students into becoming “men for and with others,” like Jesus.
Junior Michael Hanna said that he first discovered the service opportunity through the Community Service Leadership Team (CSLT) and has volunteered at the food bank every offered Saturday: “I was interested in it because I had never been to a food bank before, so I knew it would be a great new experience for me.”
In addition to working with fellow members of the Loyola community, Hanna said that he enjoyed giving back to the less fortunate: “I kept attending the service days because I loved being with my Cub brothers and meeting new guys at school who I didn’t know before. The service has impacted me greatly because it has made me feel a lot more appreciative of what I am given on a daily basis, not only food-wise, but also an amazing education, and great experiences everyday with my teachers, friends, and family.”
Senior Joseph Strawn also volunteered at the food bank on Saturday, Sept. 12., and said, “What I took away from this service project was that the numerous amount of people within the Los Angeles area are impoverished and need our help, and it is our duty to offer them our assistance, as all they need are the bare necessities.”
“At the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank I discovered how much one person could help these people through making care packages and organizing foods,” said Strawn.
Loyola will continue to provide students volunteer opportunities for two Saturdays each month, according to the Community Service Leadership Team itinerary. Mr. Zeko said, “The food bank likes our students. They like working with our guys, and it has been good that way. They need us; we like to work there. They like our guys to work there, so why not.”
According to Mr. Zeko, this coming January as part of the three-week Senior Service Project, Loyola will send about 70 seniors to volunteer for four days at the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank.