Heart of the City feeds families for the holidays

Preparing food for distribution. Photo by Andrew Ficke

By Andrew Ficke

The discouraging effects of the COVID-19 pandemic continue to be highlighted during the holiday season. With many seasonal events canceled and restaurants closed, most have been forced to forgo traditional festivities. Others still struggle amidst the new and ongoing pandemic challenges; some even find it difficult to put food on the table.

There was a hopeful mood in the air this past Saturday morning at St. Isidore’s Historical Plaza. Volunteers of all ages were moving boxes filled with colorful fruits and vegetables. Many lined up—6 feet apart—behind several tables in anticipation. It was the third Saturday of the month, and the Heart of the City food bank in Los Alamitos was ready and open to serve the community.

Heart of the City is a non-profit, all volunteer organization in Los Alamitos that provides food and clothing for those in need in Orange County. Operating year round, they have distributions every second and third Saturday morning of each month at St. Isidore’s Plaza off Katella, serving up to 250 families during their busiest weeks.

Dave Barnes, the director of Heart of the City, explained that their funding and volunteer base “does not come from any one organization,” but comes from several organizations in the area.

Families gather food during the holidays at the Heart of the City distribution event.

While many large corporations such as Boeing and Disney provide grants to Heart of the City, Barnes explained that much of their help and support still comes from local churches and organizations, including one specific church just across the street from the Event News Enterprise.

“We’ve had good support from churches in the community, most notably Grace Community Church in Seal Beach. They provide both money and volunteers.”

Grace Community Church consistently sends a team of volunteers, consisting of students in their Middle School and High School groups, as well as some older leaders. The church also recently facilitated a food drive, where many Seal Beach congregants dropped much-needed items off at their campus on 8th and Central in Old Town. Other volunteers included students just down the street from Los Alamitos High School.

Barnes noted that the pandemic had caused problems for Heart of the City, particularly with their food distribution. Local organizations that regularly sent food stopped sending trucks due to concerns about pandemic safety.

“Our numbers were way down then because people were afraid to go out. We never stopped our giving. Gradually more folks who still had needs—in spite of the pandemic—came back and now we are back in full operation.”

With their food distribution back in full swing, Heart of the City is continually looking for volunteers and donors to help feed those in need. Barnes emphasized that all of their donations go directly to helping feed and cloth the community, and that any volunteers are welcome to serve.

“As I tell the volunteers every week, ‘We all get the same paycheck, which is the good feelings we have that come from helping those in our community.’”
For more information on Heart of the City, go to wecarelosalamitos.org.

Heart of the City feeds families for the holidays