No matter how long I have known about their work and shared their story with our readers, nothing quite prepared me for the time I spent this past week with the Bagel Brigade volunteers in Los Angeles. Started by the late Herman Berman, Brigade volunteers scour local supermarkets and bakeries each day collecting day old breads and pastries which are in turn quickly retrieved by dozens of local social service agencies and schools and distributed to hungry people throughout the area.
My first morning in LA found us at the Van Nuys COSTCO parking lot at 7am. (To say that only the birds would be in the lot that early would not be an understatement…they were there, too.) Within fifteen minutes three volunteers drove up, popped their trunks and quickly filled cart after cart with bags of bagels, croissants, pastries, artisan breads…even a sheet cake decorated with roses and waiting for a birthday message. No sooner did those volunteers (retirees and students) pull away than three more vehicles appeared, each from a separate agency, to retrieve the food. As we spoke to the agency representatives we quickly learned that the Brigade’s work was critical to their own and without this product they would have a difficult time providing food for their clients.
Knowing that this scenario is played out seven days a week and that there are more than 1.7 million hungry people in LA with 6.5 million being "hunger insecure", only reinforces the importance of this small and efficient program run entirely by volunteers.
We hope that the Good People Fund’s matching grant will bring them even more funds to continue their work.