live / 2019

Healthy Food and Healthy Cooking in South Los Angeles

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Grants Challenge by My Friends House

A multi-faceted approach to fresh and healthy food access in South Los Angeles using food pantries, cooking classes, food demonstrations, and advocacy.

Briefly tell us a story that demonstrates how your organization turns inspiration into impact.

Many of our projects help our neighbors who are experiencing homelessness. While providing outreach to these clients, they told us that one important need they have is feminine sanitary supplies. We did a tampons and sanitary supply drive, collecting a large amount of supplies. We then distributed them to those in need in the Skid Row area of Los Angeles. This was a reminder that Americans have an image and stereotype of our homeless neighbors has being male.

Which of the live metrics will your submission impact?​

  • Access to healthy food
  • Obesity rates
  • Resilient communities

In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

  • South LA

How will your project make LA the best place to live?

***Food Pantry

My Friends House runs a successful food pantry. Every Wednesday, we provide 150 families with Fresh and Healthy food. Our distribution format is a “shopping-style” model where clients select the fresh fruits, fresh vegetables, breads, meats, and fish which their family wants.

We want to double our clientele for our food pantries. We plan to have a second weekly food distribution. To do this, we will need to have a second set of

–Regional Food Bank payments and pickup

–Pick-ups from Second Helpings restaurants and markets.

–Volunteer Coordination

We have had good word-of-mouth advertising. Our current clients are the ones which dispel the myth “aren’t all food pantries just canned food and bricks of cheese?”


A recent article talked about how dollar-type stores are moving into many urban and rural neighborhoods. Even though they serve an important purpose, they often do not carry fresh foods such as vegetables, fruits, bread, dairy. (99 Cent Only is a notable exception.) We will advocate for this to change.

Urban Areas are known for a predominance of fast food restaurants. Can we have some of the restaurants give a discount of a healthier option one day a week or one month a year. In the Spring, McDonalds will have discounts on Fish Sandwiches on Fridays to appeal to customers with religious concerns. Could fast food restaurants have Salad Monday or No-Cheese Tuesday or Diet Soda Wednesday? Could we cut the calorie total of a fast food meal by 20 percent just one day a week? We will advocate for this to change.

We have started to build better relationships with the local Neighborhood Council and the Los Angeles City Council District Eight Office. These will be allies in advocating and possibly legislating changes.

***Healthy Cooking Classes and Cooking Kitchen

Basic ingredients such as lean meats and fresh vegetables can be prepared in a healthy manner. And they can be prepared with added fat, added salt, and in excess portions. Our Health Cooking Class have introduced our clients to methods to cook healthy foods with healthy methods.

We have two cooking classes. Cook n’ Connect is designed for Seniors to add a social component. Creative Chefs is aimed a general audience.

We currently have a total of twelve cooking classes each year. We would like to double the number of classes. One limitation is our programs are sharing a kitchen at Ascension Lutheran Church on West Boulevard in South Los Angeles. We have done cooking classes at other locations. We want to expand our use of other locations for our cooking classes.

We would also explore the creation of Community Teaching Kitchen. This would provide an amazing resource, not only for My Friends House but for other non-profit organizations and teaching chefs interested in spreading healthy habits to South Los Angeles.

In what stage of innovation is this project?

Expand existing program (expanding and continuing ongoing successful projects)

Please explain how you will define and measure success for your project.

Our primary measure of success is families served. If we double the number of individuals and familes served in our Food Pantry and our Healthy Cooking Classes, that would be clear impact on the community.

We also want to start using medical data to measuring impact. Can we see the decrease in chloresterol lowing medications prescribed in our target zip codes? Can we see the decrease in cardiac emergencies in our area? Can we see the increase in life expectancy in our area? One of our Board Members is an executive at Health Insurance Company; she is looking into accessing this data.