Hunger walk returning this weekend

It’s not too late to register for the Westside Food Bank’s 27th Annual 5k Hunger Walk.

Participation in the event is free – although, walkers are encouraged to form a team or create a fundraising page for the food bank.

The dog-friendly event will begin at noon Sunday, Oct. 15 and features pre-walk entertainment, prizes and awards.
Last year, the event raised enough money to provide a half million meals for people on the Westside who are considered “food insecure” – meaning their budgets are so tight the next meal is not something they can take for granted.

“It used to be that families would go to a food pantry occasionally when there was an emergency but we’re finding that now many local families are relying on the pantry as a consistent source,”

Chief Development Officer Genevieve Riutort said. “It’s now even more important that the nutritional balance is accurate. Especially because half of our food goes to kids under the age of eighteen.”

This year, she hopes participants will keep a new face in mind – the proverbial starving college student – who is actually in dire need of food.

Instead of the stereotype – the teenager in the dorm spending his allowance on beer while subsisting on Ramen noodles – the more accurate picture is a community college student returning to school to get a degree while supporting a family.

Combined rising tuition costs with the high cost of housing means many students are struggling to stretch their limited incomes, Riutort said.

“It’s less glamorous and more a real, daily reality for our students,” Riutort said, “especially as tuition has risen at a lot of these institutions; it makes it a lot harder for those who are struggling.”

Riutort says two thirds of community college students are considered ‘food insecure’ – as well as four in ten UC students.

The food bank bridges the gap for many residents on the west side who are struggling to make ends meet in an expensive place to live but do not qualify for federal or state aid. The charity considers their services “homeless prevention.”

“I think there’s a lot of misconception that on the westside of Los Angeles there is not a lot of need,” Ruitort said.

The Hunger Walk will feature activities and games for children, nutritional information and opportunities to win prizes.

Entertainment will be provided The Pretenders Studio and Trinity Rose, a 14-year-old musician from the Pacific Palisades who was recently the youngest female contestant on NBC’s The Voice.

The Westside Food Bank supplies food to social service agencies in Santa Monica, Venice, Culver City, West Los Angeles, West Hollywood, Inglewood and the LAX area.

Visit for more information.

Kate Cagle

Senior reporter for the Santa Monica Daily Press