Friends in Deed Seeks Summer Food Donations

For the past several years, Friends in Deed has helped low-income to no-income families in Pasadena offset the rising cost of food so that paying for rent or other monthly necessities doesn’t have to be as difficult to navigate. The interfaith nonprofit’s food pantry is one of about 700 agencies associated with the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank, which delivers nearly 770,000 meals throughout the county every week. But with summer fast approaching, Friends in Deed is bracing for a slight dilemma regarding its food pantry, which relies heavily on private donations.
As schools let out, many children from low-income households will spend more time at home instead of on campuses that often provide free breakfast and lunch. Parents suddenly see their demand for food rise, and many of these families once again turn to the pantry at Friends in Deed.
“But at the same time,” explained Friends in Deed Executive Director Donna Byrns, “our donations — both financial as well as actual foodstuffs — go down from the private sector because so many of our folks are on vacation and involved in summer activities. Thinking about the food pantry is not necessary, convenient or even doable because maybe they’re out of town. We have a two-edged sword there in terms of trying to serve our very low-income families.”
With an average of 20 weekly volunteers working to maintain internal operations, the food pantry at Friends in Deed is still able to continue its weekly pickups from the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank during the summer. But the vacation-season doldrums affect the big suppliers as well, and the trickle-down effect is apparent. There are simply not as many food drives during the summer months as compared to the holidays, when generosity usually swells to its highest levels.
“Pasadena is one of the most giving cities in Southern California — if not California,” said Friends in Deed Board President Richard Cheung. “I’ve heard that from so many people who come and transplant themselves from elsewhere. We have close to 2,000 nonprofits if you include the faith-based community. There are a lot of people who want to do good for Pasadena.”
Byrns encourages those people to look in their cupboards and gardens for any extra food items or fresh produce, the latter being vital to the type of well-balanced nutrition plan that Friends in Deed strives to promote at its food pantry.
“I always say think of us when you do the two-for sale,” Byrns said. “You buy one, get one free. Throw that free one our way and you’re feeding another family.”
Tim Nistler has been the program director at the food pantry for the past few years. The passionate promoter of community assistance believes that the concept of hunger is “stupid.”
“That food drive in June would be as important to us as the food drive in early December,” he said.
Set up like a neighborhood market, the Friends in Deed food pantry welcomes community members who are able to present documented proof of low-income status. They then receive the opportunity to peruse the pantry and select various groceries from the shelves, which are simply less stocked during the summer.
“We ask our faith-based community to have food drives — or organizations like Boy Scouts and so forth, which a lot of times are down in the summertime but could still maybe do a project where they’d have a food drive or something of that nature,” Byrns said.

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