Approximately 38 million Americans experience food insecurity in the United States, and close to 2 million of them live n LA. Now, the Vegans of LA Food Bank aims to fight rampant food insecurity by providing Los Angeles residents with healthy, sustainable, and accessible vegan meals. The Vegans of LA initiative strives to fix the broken food system that makes healthy plant-based food more expensive than cheap fast food full of saturated fat and added sugar, and that relies on unsustainable factory farming practices.

Founded by human rights activist Gwenna Hunter, the Vegans of LA will become Los Angeles' first solely plant-based food bank. Partnering with Hope On Union Food Bank, the Vegans of LA have already fed thousand of residents experiencing food insecurity. The organization, launched in May 2022, will address the disparities of food insecurity often rooted in systemic racism. Among those facing food insecurity, communities of color are two to three times more likely to live in food insecure households.

“Food worthiness is a human right. In providing plant-based foods to communities in need we empower them with new food choices and in turn, we create a more sustainable world,” Hunter said.

Hunter is also involved with several other plant-based and social activism organizations including Vegan for Black Lives Matter, Black Women for Wellness, and Black Women Farmers of LA. She also leads the LA Chapter of Vegan Outreach.

Vegans of LA primarily focus on supplying whole plant-based foods to those facing food insecurity, but occasionally get supplies from vegan brands such as Hodo Foods, Unreal Deli, Hilary's, Good Catch, and others. The food bank is open on the third Thursday of each month from 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.

This Fall, the food bank will extend its outreach to colleges and universities across Southern California. The outreach program will help educate students on food insecurity and provide access to nourishing, plant-based meals. The food bank also works to minimize food waste by having food donated that would otherwise be tossed due to minor imperfections.

Food Insecurity in America

Vegans of LA is addressing regional food insecurity in Southern California, helping bring awareness to the national problem. Last month, Feeding America released its Map the Meal Gap study to illuminate how food insecurity is tied to race, economic standing, and place. The study revealed that in some areas, Black and Latino individuals experience food insecurity at a rate of 10 times of white individuals.

"Every community in this country experiences food insecurity, but we do not all experience it the same way. These data provide the most complete picture available, and we know behind these data are people and communities who will be impacted by the changes we must make to ensure no one goes hungry," Chief Research Officer of Feeding America Tom Summerfelt, Ph.D., said. "It is only by understanding the realities of food insecurity within our communities that we can truly address them. Map the Meal Gap provides incredible insights and data and is available to everyone so that people facing hunger, policymakers, and community leaders can come together and craft policies that increase food access for all."

Fighting Food Insecurity With Plant-Based Foods

Vegans of LA joins several organizations and businesses using plant-based foods to combat food insecurity. In Los Angeles, LaRayia's Bodega offers all of its products for under five dollars, making it one of the cheapest convenient stores in the country. Last September, the store announced it would open a location in Atlanta, breaking the five-dollar minimum to donate extra proceed to Lunch On Me ATL –– Atlanta’s local branch of founder Larayia Gaston’s nonprofit organization dedicated to fixing food insecurity.

Last March, Hungry Planet donated 10,000 pounds of vegan meat to help fight food insecurity in St. Louis. The company aimed to bring healthier meat-like options to communities that would otherwise defer to unhealthier fast-food meals or not have access to nutritional food at all.

Billie Eilish earned her spot as PETA's Person of the Year in part due to her work with Support + Feed –– an organization founded by Eilish's mother, Maggie Baird, that provides healthy, vegan meals to households facing food insecurity. Both Rooney Mara and Joaquin Phoenix have teamed up with Eilish to help promote plant-based foods as a solution to worsening food insecurity.

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