Tzu Chi Mobile Food Pantry: Feeding Needy Families in Los Angeles

National Headquarters  |  July 9, 2018

When factoring in the cost of living, taxes, housing, and medical costs, the state of California has the highest rate of poverty in the nation at 20.6%, beating out Florida (19%), and New York and Louisiana (both 17.9%) according to the United States Census Bureau.

A Tale of Two States

Despite the economic boom of Silicon Valley and the riches of Hollywood- both industries helping Californians rank 11% higher than the national average in terms of income and earnings- there remains a stark disparity between those who earn well and those who don’t.


Poverty today doesn’t look like it did before. It’s not visible from the outside. It can be seen inside their homes, in the empty fridges.

This is most evident in California’s housing crisis, where there aren’t enough affordable units for purchase, let along rent.  A 2018 report by Environmental Progress states that at least 30% of income goes toward housing.  That doesn’t count taxes or anything else!

These factors and many more have led to a major problem: food insecurity.

The California Association of Food Banks estimates that about 12.5% of Californians do not know where their next meal is coming from.  This is roughly one in every eight residents, but the statistics for children are even more startling.  At least one out of every five children in California go to bed hungry every night.

A Nutritious Intervention

To help ease the burdens of food insecurity, income inequality, and the cost of living, Tzu Chi USA has hosted a Mobile Food Pantry program since November 2016.  Through our mobile service, we serve low-income families, often non-English speaking, across Southern California who struggle with meeting basic needs.

It’s really great, what they're doing. They do a lot on their part… They have huge hearts.

Unlike many pantries who mostly offer canned goods, we offer perishables that include fresh produce and vegetables, dairy products, and dry goods like rice, beans, and more.  This way, we can also help combat the rising complications of obesity and help give even our littlest Californians the nutrition they need to grow big and strong.

See our mobile food pantry service schedule and learn about the impact of our program. You, too, can help us fight food insecurity and relieve the effects of income inequality in California.


You, too, can help us fight food insecurity and relieve the effects of income inequality in California.


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