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Since the onset of COVID-19, tens of thousands of locals households have become food insecure, meaning some residents may go to bed hungry tonight. But a recent partnership between the Westside Food Bank and Westside Coalition is looking to unite local food providers so they can address the problem together as one.

Some families who have been affected have never needed food assistance so a number of new food distributions have sprung up in recent months to respond to the increased needs of the community. As a result, Westside Food Bank and the Westside Coalition have collaborated to create a survey so the two can compile a master list of distribution centers, delivery programs, and meal providers, and then coordinate with the various organizers to identify neighborhoods that may not have adequate service.

“We heard about a lot of groups and some other folks who were doing pop-up food distributions,” so the survey will be used to suss out what neighborhoods have a lot of food distributions, what neighborhoods have no food distributions, and other information that’s pertinent to the coalition’s efforts, Westside Food Bank Deputy Director Genevieve Riutort said in an interview Tuesday. “And then we also wanted to provide support because, in some cases, those new food distributions might be eligible to get food from the Westside Food Bank or become member agencies. In some cases they may not, but, even so, we want to be able to provide support and share best practices to make sure that all of the distribution sites are complying with health regulations… and those kinds of things.”

The survey is designed for anybody who is doing any kind of food distribution. “So, if someone is doing a food pantry where they’re giving out groceries; if they are doing a meal program where they’re providing takeaway meals; if they are delivering food to people that are homebound, then we want to know about that,” Riutort said as she detailed the survey’s questions, which take about 5 minutes to answer. “Essentially, we’re asking who are they serving, what are their needs and what are their obstacles like? Could they do more if they had a truck or could they do more if they had more refrigeration or do they need more volunteers?”

“We also have a couple of questions that are designed to suss out whether there’s an unmet need,” Riutort said, sharing these are important answers to know because Westside Food Bank has the resources to help.

So far, there have been more than 20 responses to the survey, according to Riutort, who believes the master list of food distributors should be completed within 2 weeks.

The survey will remain open online though in case there are other organizations that wish to add themselves to the master list of Westside food distributors, she said, adding, “We will also post something on the Westside Food Bank website so that people who go to our website will know about other places — besides our member agencies — where they can get food in the area.”