Venice Family Clinic and UCLA collaborate to reduce food insecurity during the pandemic, delivering nearly 13,000 free meals to people in need



UCLA Dining Plans and Prepares Healthful, Ready-to-Eat Meals, and Nonprofit Community Health Center Raises Funds and Distributes Food to Patients

LOS ANGELES – (Dec. 7, 2020) – Venice Family Clinic, one of the nation’s leading nonprofit community health centers, and UCLA Dining announced a unique partnership today that is providing nearly 13,000 nutritious free meals per week to patients and families in need during the COVID-19 pandemic.

With fewer students on campus to feed and more people facing food insecurity, UCLA has called on the skills of its dining staff to help serve the community. Five days a week, UCLA Dining plans, prepares and delivers healthful, ready-to-eat meals to Venice Family Clinic sites in Venice, Santa Monica, Mar Vista and Hawthorne. Venice Family Clinic staff and volunteers distribute the free meals to the low-income patients the Clinic serves. The prepared meals are in addition to free fresh fruits and vegetables the Clinic has been distributing over the past year to its patients.

Even before COVID-19, food insecurity affected an estimated 2 million people in Los Angeles County, meaning one in five people may not know where their next meal is coming from. More than 35 million Americans – 10.5% of all U.S. households – experienced food insecurity at some point during 2019, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“We know our patients, who have lost income and are dealing with the effects of the pandemic, are struggling to feed their families,” Venice Family Clinic CEO Elizabeth Benson Forer said. “This innovative collaboration with UCLA means that we can ease our patients’ worries and ensure they have the food they need to stay healthy.”

Generous donations to Venice Family Clinic cover the cost of the food, and UCLA’s commitment to keeping staff employed provides the labor to prepare and deliver the meals for the Emergency Food Partnership, using no tuition funds. The partnership provides four nutritious meals per week to each family member or individual, and each meal consists of about a pound of healthy food. UCLA Dining’s executive chef has worked with Venice Family Clinic to design special menus that address the health needs of the patients and give them options like blackened fish with pineapple salsa or leg of lamb with roasted potatoes.

“We’re proud to serve families in the community through a partnership that helps keep people healthy and fed during the pandemic,” said Joey Martin, senior executive chef of UCLA Housing and Hospitality. “Working with the Venice Family Clinic magnifies the good both organizations can do. UCLA’s commitment to its staff and to the community is part of who we are as an institution. Working together, we can help many more people than we could alone.”

About Venice Family Clinic

Venice Family Clinic is a leader in providing comprehensive, high-quality primary health care to people in need. Now celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, the Clinic has grown from a small storefront operation into one of Los Angeles’ leading community health centers, providing care to 27,000 men, women and children annually through 14 sites in Venice, Santa Monica, Mar Vista, Inglewood and Culver City. The Clinic leads the way in providing comprehensive and integrated care by creating a one-stop health system that offers multiple services, often at the same locations and same time as primary care appointments. These services include dental care, substance use treatment, mental health services, vision screenings, child development services, health education, prescription medications, domestic violence counseling, HIV services, street medicine for people experiencing homelessness and health insurance enrollment services. For more information, visit Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

About UCLA Dining

UCLA Dining prepares award-winning food for the dining halls and to-go restaurants that serve students living on campus. Dining receives no tuition funding and is a self-supporting unit at UCLA. With only 5% of the usual student population living on campus due to the pandemic, the department has gone from preparing 34,000 daily student meals to about 1,000. In addition to the partnership with the Venice Family Clinic, UCLA Dining provides hundreds of meals per week to veterans, and works with UCLA’s Economic Crisis Response Team to address food insecurity on campus with meal vouchers and other solutions. Dining is proud to partner with various on- and off-campus partners to alleviate food insecurity, whether it is faced by students, veterans or the community at large. Fresh, local ingredients and inventiveness are cornerstones of UCLA Dining. UCLA has been named No. 1 in a ranking of Best College Food in America four out the past five years. UCLA is also home to BruinPlate, one of the nation’s only health-themed dining halls.