VERNON, Calif. — Potatoes at the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank are being portioned out into five-pound bags that will go to families and individuals in need of food.
Helping to fill these bags is Augustine Miguel, who started full-time at the Food Bank on February 2 after being unemployed for a month.
"I was very happy when I learned I got the job," said Miguel. "Then I started to get everything ready that I needed to begin work."
Miguel was a dishwasher at a restaurant before he was laid off. He was the first to be hired at the food bank from a new initiative that seeks to employ restaurant workers who are out of a job because of the pandemic.
“The regular work is great to have right now to be able to pay bills," said Miguel. "Bills like cell phones don’t pay themselves."
The new initiative has 40 open slots to hire unemployed restaurant workers. The job is full-time at 40 hours a week and will be temporary at about three months.
Ana Martinez, the food bank’s director of volunteer services who has served 20 years with the nonprofit, explained that she's never seen a need so high for food than during the pandemic.
"Overall for 2020, we served a little bit over 5 million families and individuals in need in Los Angeles County," said Martinez.
While the need is high, the restaurant industry has also greatly suffered. Hospitality lost 498,000 jobs in December—more than any other industry.
In light of those numbers, the food bank is glad they have this opportunity to help the restaurant industry that, in turn, is helping the greater L.A. community in the fight against hunger.
“So overall, it’s a win-win situation for the food bank, for the worker, and also for the recipient who will be receiving that food assistance, so it’s a great program and we look forward to having some folks come in and participate with us," said Martinez.
And for Miguel, having steady work is not only helping him but his family, too.
"I support my mom and my loved ones," he said. "The need for work is great because of the pandemic, and we’re all facing it."
For restaurants and workers interested in learning more about this initiative, contact Ana Martinez at 323-234-3030 ext. 144 or firstname.lastname@example.org.