Wave Staff Report
CULVER CITY — When the pandemic struck early last year, a team of Culver City leaders sprang into action with a bold, innovative plan that has been a lifeline for both food-insecure residents and local restaurants.
Dubbed FeedCulver, the new group began purchasing meals from struggling restaurants and developing an infrastructure to deliver those meals to families who had been adversely impacted by the pandemic.
As the program marks one full year since the first meal was served, the effort is going stronger than ever — largely because the need is as great as ever.
“When we began, there were people who lost their jobs and truly didn’t know where their next meal was coming, and at the same time, our restaurants were struggling to stay afloat,” said Culver City Councilman Göran Eriksson, who was one of the organization’s co-founders. “Unfortunately, we are still feeling the devastating impacts of the pandemic on local families and businesses, but I am proud to say that FeedCulver continues to raise money from the community and local businesses to buy and deliver those desperately needed meals.”
Since April 14, 2020, when the group delivered its first meals, almost 40,000 meals, approximately 160 hot meals per day, have been delivered to struggling Culver City individuals and families. The volunteer ranks have swelled to more than 100, and FeedCulver has a wide array of partners from the city and the city’s Downtown Business Association to the Culver City Chamber of Commerce and the Culver City Exchange Club.
Grace Lutheran Church’s long-established Grace Diner Food Bank serves as the distribution point for families who arrive every day, no questions asked, to get the meals they need.
So far, FeedCulver has helped support 23 area restaurants, including Akasha, Harajuku Taproom, Mega Pizza Grille, Auld Fella, Quicksand, Taproom Pizza Co., Chica’s Tacos, Meet in Paris, Novecento Pasta & Grill, Pasta Sisters, EK Valley, Ugo, George Petrelli Steak House and more.
Funding has come from individuals and small businesses as well as major donations from Amazon Studios, the Culver Studios, Cedars-Sinai, Culver City Exchange Club, Sony Pictures and the Culver City Rotary Community Foundation.
“This has absolutely been an example of neighbors helping neighbors during one of the most difficult times in recent memory,” said Eric Sims of the Downtown Business Association. “And the best part is that we are doing more than just feeding the people who need it.
“We are helping to maintain hospitality jobs that might have otherwise gone away as restaurants closed. We are helping the small businesses in our community that may otherwise have gone out of business. And we are discovering, like never before, that ours is a close-knit community filled with people who care about their neighbors.”
“In many ways, this is an extension of the work we have been doing for many years at Grace Diner,” said Lisa Skelley, manager of the program. “But what makes it special is how many people have stepped up to volunteer, to donate, to support what we are doing with FeedCulver. It has been a very special experience.”
Eriksson said FeedCulver continues to seek donations, partnerships and volunteers at its website: www.feedculver.org.
“There will always be people who need our help, and we hope we can continue to be there for them throughout the pandemic and beyond,” he said.