LOS ANGELES — Solving food insecurity is Damian Diaz’s bread and butter as co-founder of No Us Without You, a nonprofit that he and Othon Nolasco started during the pandemic to help provide and deliver food to hundreds of food-insecure, undocumented people that have nowhere else to turn to.
“They don’t qualify for SNAP or WIC if you’re a pregnant single mother,” Diaz said. “You don’t get unemployment, stimulus checks and so forth, so where do they go? Literally, where the hell do they go? What do you do?”
Diaz knows first-hand what’s like to not know where your next meal might come from, as he was homeless for some time. Back then, he relied on the kindness of strangers, so he’s now paying it forward to families like Rosa’s.
Rosa’s husband was injured at work and hasn’t been able to collect a paycheck in two years. Their immigration status makes them ineligible for food stamps, and during the pandemic, her daughter and grandchild had to move back in with them.
“It’s been hard,” Rosa said in Spanish, holding back tears. “It’s been really hard.”
Inflation has made things even worse. Although they’re doing their best to keep the lights on, they struggle to find the money for food, let alone rent.
“We haven’t paid rent in like a year or so,” she said.
Rosa isn’t alone. A recent report by Nourish California and the California Immigrant Policy Center found that 45% of undocumented people are food insecure, and two in three undocumented children go hungry.
“The need is so great, but we are really fortunate to have the support of this nonprofit,” Rosa said, hugging Diaz.
But soon, Rosa and her family might be able to get a little bit of help from the government, as California is considering expanding CalFresh eligibility to undocumented families next year.
“It’s a need that needs to be met,” Diaz said. “I think it’s great. I think we better do it now before it gets too late."