‘Filipinos Feed the Frontlines’ campaign comes to LA’s Historic Filipinotown

Maria Carmel Valendez, youth programs coordinator at Search to Involve Pilipino Americans (SIPA), delivers hot meals to families in Historic Filipinotown on Thursday, October 8 through the #FilipinosFeedTheFrontlines campaign.  | Photo courtesy of Search to Involve Pilipino Americans

GOING eight months into the pandemic, the bayanihan spirit of the Filipino American community is unwavering, as individuals continue to extend generosity to support frontline workers and families in need.

The “Filipinos Feed the Frontlines” campaign on Thursday, October 8 began its first distribution of 100 meals from Fil-Am restaurant Sari Sari Store to residents in Los Angeles’ Historic Filipinotown neighborhood.

“Despite it being already eight months into this pandemic, the issue of food insecurity still looms in many community members’ minds. It is more evident now as many have not been able to secure work and jobs like before,” Maria Carmel Valendez, youth programs coordinator at Search to Involve Pilipino Americans (SIPA), told the Asian Journal following Thursday’s delivery. “Additionally, the loss of certain unemployment benefits means less money for HiFi families and their necessities. They are having to choose what priorities are of higher importance for their family.”

Started in April by Kultivate Labs, a non-profit economic development and arts organization based in the Bay Area, the “Filipinos Feed the Frontlines” program raised $100,000 to help stabilize 10 Fil-Am-owned restaurants and provide 10,000 meals for health care workers and scientists and Filipino seniors and low-income families in the South of Market (SOMA) and Excelsior neighborhoods of San Francisco.

After reaching the monetary goal, Jason Angeles and Ronnie Taylor — serial restaurateurs and partners of several businesses: SSF Chickenbox, IVSF Catering, Frozen Kuhsterd, Sugar & Spun, Churreria SF and Love Burn — have committed a weekly monetary donation of $1,500 to the campaign, with $1,000 going to the program in the Bay Area and the remaining $500 to support the expansion of #FilipinosFeedTheFrontlines to HiFi.

This expansion is in partnership with SIPA and restaurants, Sari Sari Store, Spoon & Pork, HiFi Kitchen, and The Park’s Finest.

Sari Sari Store provided 100 rice bowls for the first  #FilipinosFeedTheFrontlines distribution in Los Angeles’ Historic Filipinotown. | Photo courtesy of Search to Involve Pilipino Americans

“Although a meal may not mean too much to the average person, the money a free meal saves can be put towards other necessities like rent and utilities. Filipinos Feed The Frontlines not only feeds people with food, but displays a sense of community care and social connection that people are missing now. We hope that this project and our partnership with Kultivate Labs on Filipinos Feed the Frontlines feeds both their stomachs and souls,” Valendez added.

This program also builds upon the Feed the Frontliners project started by The Park’s Finest this past March, through which they raised funds to buy savory meals for health care workers and first responders in Los Angeles County. To date, the project efforts have provided free community-sponsored catered meals to 25,320 personnel of health care facilities and firehouses throughout the county.

“When we come to hospitals or facilities, they tell us that this meal delivery is a highlight of their month or week and it gives them a short break from the reality of the pandemic that is unevenly affecting immigrant communities like ours,” Johneric Concordia of The Park’s Finest previously told the Asian Journal.

Contributions to the #FilipinosFeedTheFrontlines fundraising campaign can be made at www.filipinosfeedthefrontlines.com. The website has options to directly donate or purchase merchandise like shirts, tote bags, and masks — the funds of which will go towards a meal.

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