From Food Pantry Recipient to Food Pantry Coordinator – How One Woman’s Experience with Hunger Went Full Circle
Laura Hernandez grew up in Downtown Los Angeles. Her mother was a hardworking single mom who worked multiple jobs to make ends meet. When times were tough — such as summer, when the kids would go through their food twice as fast, her family would visit the local food bank. Laura has fond memories of visiting the food pantry – they were filled with joy as loving people helped her family in times of need by providing fresh produce, milk, eggs, meat, and snacks.
Here’s the thing – Laura’s family wasn’t lazy. They weren’t hungry because they didn’t try hard enough. They simply needed help to make ends meet because life is expensive. Her mother reiterated time and time again that education is the key to success and that they would have to work extremely hard to live the life they dreamed of. And that’s just what Laura did. A first generation college attendee, Laura graduated from UC Merced with a major in Psychology and a double minor in Sociology and Chicano Studies. She was able to benefit from scholarships and financial aid, but when times were tight she frequented the UC Merced Food Pantry.
After graduation, Laura sought a job that reflected her passion for serving the under served and providing the resources that were available to her as a child. She landed a job as a Resource Coordinator for EAH Housing, whose mission it is to expand the range of opportunities for all by developing, managing, and promoting quality affordable housing and diverse communities. She strongly believes that it is a basic human right to have a roof over your head and food on your plate. Laura makes both of these possible through her work.
Once a month, Laura coordinates a food distribution at one of her apartment complex sites and they serve between 150-170 families each time. She coordinates this huge task alone and it’s quite apparent how much she loves it. Between neighborhood friends, residents, and Bank of America volunteers – the distribution runs smoothly. Their June distribution consisted of fresh milk, almond milk, onions, zucchini, mandarins, lettuce, pears, snacks, and more.
Laura states that Central California Food Bank is key in helping her residents change their eating habits, try new foods, and find the hope they need to continue to defeat the obstacles that stand in their way. Central California Food Bank is thankful for the work that Laura does and her dedication to bettering the lives of her residents. If you would be interested in volunteering for Laura, please contact her agency coordinator, Angela, at 559-237-3663 ext. 1108.