ANNUAL NUMBERS for FOCUS SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA
FOCUS Southern California is tremendously proud and honored to collaborate with churches, other local nonprofits and companies to ensure that donated and wholesale supplies are effectively distributed to those most in need using our extensive network of faith groups, schools, community-based organizations and individual volunteers.
FOCUS Southern California is a proud agency with the Community Action Partnership of Orange County (CAP OC) Food Bank in Garden Grove. The Food Bank provides us with food that we either purchase at a low cost or receive at no cost and then distribute to low-income individuals and families in need twice a month in Orange County.
Since early 2021, FOCUS has been receiving free diapers and pull-ups from CAP OC Diaper Bank and distributing them to families in need on a monthly basis. Currently, we are providing packs of diapers and pull-ups for up to 300 babies and toddlers in Orange County each month. Our volunteers help to pack each diaper/pullup order and help us to distribute the resources.
CAP OC Food Bank has donated to FOCUS Southern California new two 3-door refrigerators, two 3-door freezers, electric and manual jack pallets, shelving, tables, containers and many items that allow us to expand our efforts to helping our neighbors. We are currently awaiting the delivery of a new 20-foot electric refrigerated truck, also donated to us by CAP OC Food Bank. The truck will allow us to deliver perishable and nonperishable foods to our distribution sites in Orange County throughout Southern California.
FOCUS Southern California is a proud agency with the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank (LARFB). The Food Bank provides us with food that we receive at no cost and then distribute it to the needy twice a month in downtown Los Angeles. FARFB also provides us with diapers and menstrual products at no cost that we distribute twice a month to individuals and families in need.
FOCUS Southern California is an agency with Giving Children Hope in Buena Park. We purchase, at a nominal fee, blankets, clothing, household items, essential items, and personal hygiene items, which we then distribute to people in need in Southern California.
Through our partnership with Good360 nonprofit and a nominal fee, FOCUS Southern California receives clothing and household items from Burlington Stores in Santa Ana and Mission Viejo. These items are distributed to people in need in Southern California.
Churches, corporations and community members donate new and clean and gently used items, including clothing, purses, toys, backpacks, household items, school supplies, and personal hygiene items. Volunteers sort and distribute these items to our neighbors in need in Southern California. We also provide many of the personal hygiene items to churches and other organizations for their youth and other ministries to create blessing bags with FOCUS Southern California for distribution to the homeless, hotel residents and people in need we encounter every day.
FOCUS Southern California also received a donation of a cargo van from Capital Group in Irvine. This vehicle is used to pick up and transport food and other items.
FOCUS Southern California collaborates with schools/school districts, nonprofits, and faith groups to distribute food, diapers and essential supplies to neighbors in need. FOCUS Southern California wants to further expand its reach in Southern California by building partnerships with additional food banks as well as Orthodox churches and other faith groups. These partnerships will give congregation members opportunities to serve neighbors in need in their own communities. Food and other items can be transported to partnering churches for distribution at their sites, or other community-based sites, making it easy for neighbors across this vast region to access free food and other essential supplies.
FOCUS Southern California’s greatest strength lies in that heartfelt engagement of Orthodox Christians and others to serve. This is absolutely core to our mission and is the foundation of our success. Moreover, we provide a unique service delivery framework in Southern California. Our distribution hub model ensures that barriers to resources are removed for communities with pockets of poverty, transportation deficiencies, and resource scarcity. We unite and bring resources to volunteers, nonprofits and the faith community to address the needs of our neighbors together. We are the masters of procurement – trusted by local food banks and companies to receive bulk donations and ensure that all donated items make it to those most in need. We serve as an easy-to-access distribution hub to share food, clothing, and other critical supplies.
While we host bi-monthly distribution days for any community member to access free items, most of our distributions is through our partnering nonprofits and churches. Our partners are deeply rooted in impoverished, remote and under-resourced communities across Southern California and are known and trusted by residents. Our invitation to partner expands their capacity to serve. Through these partnerships, we ensure that bulk donations received from food banks and companies in large cities are quickly funneled to neighborhoods, families and individuals most in need throughout our vast Southern California region. Through this collaboration, we live out or values of welcoming, community and unity in service.
IMPACT IN ORANGE COUNTY
Twice a month our volunteers distribute nutritious food, household items, clothing and diapers to individuals, churches, nonprofits and schools. Using our warehouse, we act as a hub to funnel our resources to others who can then target communities in need. We receive the food and diapers from CAP OC Food Bank. We receive the household items and clothing from Giving Children Hope and community donations.
Once a week and by appointment, anyone in need can shop at our warehouse food pantry to receive food, diapers, household products, and clothing. Churches and organizations are invited to direct their neighbors in need to visit our food pantry or they can send a volunteer to shop for their neighbors in need. Churches and organizations are encouraged to shop at our food pantry and take the items back to establish their own food pantry shelf or closet at their locations so that individuals in need can receive food and other items instantly.
FOCUS Southern California hosts large distributions at various churches and schools in Orange County where there is a substantial need for food and other essential items. Utilizing our resources at these distributions, the churches invite their parishioners to serve alongside FOCUS Southern California to help parishioners and surrounding neighbors in need.
FOCUS Southern California is approved to distribute The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) in 27 service areas in Orange County through CAP OC Food Bank. TEFAP is a federal program that supplements the diets of low-income Americans by providing them with emergency food assistance at no cost to the food recipient. The United States Department of Agriculture provides 100% American grown foods and administrative funds to states to operate TEFAP. TEFAP recipients must self-certify they meet the 2023 TEFAP Income Guidelines and write their name, address and household size on our signup sheet at each monthly distribution.
TEFAP is a program we are working to greatly expand in Orange County. With the current decrease to Cal Fresh program participants along with the endless rising inflation, there will be many more vulnerable people in need of nutritional and sustaining foods from TEFAP – fresh produce, dairy, frozen meats and a great assortment of non-perishable foods. Our warehouse and refrigeration serve to store the TEFAP food until time of distribution. Our refrigerated truck will allow our volunteers to deliver and distribute the food to our various TEFAP distributions.
We currently distribute food from TEFAP to 72 families from the Westminster School District once a month at their district location. The school district identifies families in need and school volunteers work alongside our volunteers to greet and distribute this food. Westminster School District is comprised of 17 schools and 80% of their students qualify for free lunches. FOCUS Southern California is working with the district to expand TEFAP to more Westminster School District families in 2023.
We are working with the Capistrano Unified School District to begin distributing TEFAP at their schools. This district is comprised of over 55 schools and alternative education programs. We anticipate distributing at one school in August/September and expanding the TEFAP to other district schools soon thereafter.
We are working to bring food from TEFAP to nonprofits who help the community in areas that FOCUS Southern California does not. Waymakers is a nonprofit that redirects youth offenders, unifies troubled families, resolves community conflicts, and empowers victims of violence. Our first monthly distribution at Waymakers is planned for June with 60 families in need to receive food from TEFAP and with this nonprofit, we have the potential to assist up to 300 Waymakers families in the coming months.
TEFAP offers more than 120 nutritious foods, including dried beans, canned frozen, fresh & dried fruits, canned & frozen vegetables, fruit/vegetable juices, eggs, meat (when available), poultry, fish, nuts, milk and cheese, and whole-grain and enriched grain products, including rice, cereal, and pasta.
FOCUS Southern California will soon apply to become an agency with Second Harvest Food Bank in Irvine, the other food bank in Orange County besides CAP OC in Garden Grove. This partnership will allow us to distribute TEFAP in the remaining service areas in Orange County.
FOCUS Southern California volunteers serve one Saturday each month at CAP OC warehouse to prepare food boxes that the food bank then distributed to senior citizens in need of food. The food bank is short staffed and relies on volunteers to pack over 25,000 boxes each month.
Over the past few years, FOCUS Southern California has cultivated a robust relationship with the CAP OC Food Bank. By bringing FOCUS volunteers to help at the Food Bank – especially during the first year of the pandemic when other companies scaled back their volunteerism – and by coordinating the distribution of donated food, FOCUS Southern California has become a top partner agency of the CAP OC Food Bank. In 2021 and 2022, the CAP OC Food Bank nominated FOCUS Southern California to receive One OC’s Spirit of Volunteerism Award in recognition of our work in the community.
FOCUS Southern California receives around 150 handmade wooden kid’s toys from the Orange County Woodworkers Association and around 100 new unwrapped toys from local churches, donors and from Giving Children Hope. We deliver and distribute the toys to children in need in low-income areas, children of sex trafficking survivors, and children of low-income families identified by local school principals.
IMPACT IN LOS ANGELES
Beginning September 2023, FOCUS Southern California has hosted two food distributions each month at St. Nicholas Antiochian Cathedral in downtown LA serving around 150 families at each distribution. Utilizing our resources at these distributions, the church invites its parishioners to serve alongside FOCUS Southern California to help parishioners and surrounding neighbors in need.
FOCUS Southern California is approved to distribute The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) by LARFB. We distribute food from TEFAP bi-monthly along with diapers, pull-ups and menstrual products we also receive from LARFB. We receive the household items and clothing from Giving Children Hope and community donations.
TEFAP is a program we are working to expand in Los Angeles at churches, schools and non-profit organizations that provide services that FOCUS Southern California does not. While Orange County allows us to distribute TEFAP once a month, we are allowed to distribute TEFAP at least twice a month in Los Angeles.
We are currently distributing food from TEFAP at our Los Angeles distributions at St. Nicholas. We are reaching out and inviting schools near St. Nicholas to invite their families in need to join us at our Saturday distributions. Rain or shine, families begin lining up around the church building at 6:30 am waiting for our distribution to open at 10 am.
We are making plans to begin a second distribution at another large Orthodox church in downtown Los Angeles later this year and to expand to two other Los Angeles Orthodox churches in 2024.
FOCUS Southern California volunteers occasionally serve on Saturdays at LARFB sorting and bagging produce and performing other food related tasks The food bank is short staffed and relies on volunteers to assist their efforts to help the community. As our efforts expand in Los Angeles, we will work to invite more volunteers to serve on a regular basis.
FOCUS Southern California receives around 100 new unwrapped toys from local churches, donors and from Giving Children Hope. We also purchase toys at low cost at the Los Angeles Mattel Outlet for nonprofits. We deliver and distribute the toys to children at our Los Angeles distributions.
IMPACT IN San Diego
Over the past ten years, FOCUS Southern California’s volunteers from several San Diego Orthodox churches have united one day each week at God’s Extended Hand to cook and then serve hot meals to 150 homeless individuals living in Downtown San Diego. This service continued throughout the first year of the pandemic. Sadly, God’s Extended Hand closed in 2021 yet volunteers continued to take turns at different churches to prepare meals for 150 people and deliver and distribute the meals at or around the location of God’s Extended Hand.
To ensure that the homeless in San Diego continue receiving life sustaining assistance, God’s Extended Hand transferred its assets to FOCUS North America, including a building in Downtown San Diego that has long provided food and shelter to people experiencing poverty and homelessness. FOCUS North America is partnering with Father Joe’s Villages to utilize this donated site to provide even more services to the homeless. FOCUS Southern California will transform the site into a Community Meal Center and begin utilizing its commercial kitchen to offer daily warm meals to individuals in need. FOCUS Southern California will utilize the building’s expansive first floor and commercial kitchen to feed individuals and families experiencing homelessness in the downtown area. Our Community Meal Center will serve as a gateway to other services. Father Joe’s Villages is leading the rehabilitation of the Downtown site to create and operate housing for individuals experiencing homelessness.