(BPT) – The impact of COVID-19 has been far-reaching, even beyond the impacts of the virus itself. Reduced employment hours, job loss, and an increase in rates of depression are just some issues that Angelinos face right now that can increase their likelihood of facing food insecurity.

According to researchers from USC’s Keck School of Medicine, 1 in 4 households in the county don’t have enough food due to COVID-19. For many the challenge is a new one, as many of those facing food insecurity due to the pandemic are doing so for the first time.

Venice Family Clinic (VFC) is a nonprofit community health center in Los Angeles that wants to help those in need to navigate the situation. To help their patients, the clinic is giving away 170k pounds of food that they’ve received from Food Forward, an urban gleaning program that collects excess food from farmers markets and LA Wholesale Produce Markets. Now, with the help of an $11k grant from Health Net, other community members can also benefit.

“We treat food as medicine,” says Rigoberto Garcia, Director of Health Education for Venice Family Clinic. “Eating healthy foods can positively affect physical and mental health, but not having enough nutritious food to feed your family can be isolating and scary. It can also put people at greater risk for diseases like diabetes, obesity and heart problems.”

These and other issues make up the social determinants of health, and Health Net understands them well as a leader in government-sponsored health plans with decades of experience serving Medi-Cal members.

“We believe every person deserves a safety net for their whole health,” said Brian Ternan, Health Net’s President and CEO. “Every Californian deserve access to quality programs that support healthy habits regardless of what they might be going through. Health Net is committed to combating food insecurity, homelessness, violence and poverty. These are all things vulnerable members of the community face whether it’s a pandemic or not.”

Visit one of the locations on the days and times (see below). There’s no need to make an appointment. VFC asks that:

  • People drive through to minimize contact.
  • Senior citizens go early, between 9 a.m. and 10 a.m.
  • No one line up early.

Do you or someone you know need a food boost right now?

The free Food Market Distribution can help. Find the location nearest you:

Simms/Mann Health & Wellness Center (2509 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica 90405)

  • Every Tuesday
  • 10 a.m. – noon

Colen Health Center (4700 Inglewood Blvd, Culver City, CA 90230)

  • Second and fourth Thursdays of the month (Jan. – Sept. 2021)
  • 10 a.m. – noon

Robert Levine Health Center (905 Venice Ave, Venice, CA 90291)

  • First Monday of the month
  • 10 a.m. – noon

Rose Health Center (604 Rose Ave, Venice, CA 90291)

  • 3rd Wednesday of the month
  • 10 a.m. – noon

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