It has been awhile since the last Watercorps update. There are allot of things that I wanted talk about. I surely wanted to introduce the volunteers and network partners. I wanted to thank the donors. There is a lot to talk about on the political front. The effort to lobby for the human rights of homeless people continues. As always the water distribution work continues uninterrupted.
However, sometimes events on the ground get to set the agenda. This is one of those times. I want to take this time to talk about feeding the homeless and the poor. I want to express my concern about the loss of critical food delivery services, in this climate of economic downturn
In order to get water to more homeless people I have been doing water distribution at mobile meal distribution lines. There are two regular mobile meal distribution lines in the bottoms (Eastern Skid Row).
My friends at the World Agape Church operate one of these lines. This operation really is a soup line in the true sense of the word. This is because they always serve soup. The also give the people some bread, fruit maybe a tomato along with a half of a boiled potato. These things go into a small plastic bag. The soup is served in a 10 ounce Styrofoam cup. On a good day, ice cream is also served in a 10 ounce Styrofoam cup. They do this six days a week.
The Mobile Kitchen Service of The Midnight Mission puts on the other food line, in the bottoms. They offer a meal served in a divided Styrofoam box or a foil pan with a cardboard top. There is an entree, usually chicken, fish or pasta, along with some rice or mashed potatoes, and a vegetable. Once in awhile they serve hot dogs. They also offer a 10 oz Styrofoam cup of grape fruit juice or a bottle of Snapple. Both of these food lines serve up to 150 people.
I would also like to recognize the fixed locations of The Salvation Army and The Fred Jordan Mission. Also an important player in the bottoms is the Hospitality Kitchen aka. The Hippie Kitchen operated by The Catholic Worker. I hold these organizations up for doing great work, helping the homeless people, who live in the bottoms.
Last week I got word that that The Midnight Mission, Mobile Kitchen Program would cease operations, at the end of January. I spoke to two managers at The Midnight Mission. I wanted to ask them if it was true. I also wanted to ask them why.
They told me “yes it was true”. The answer to why, I probably could have guessed. The reason for the program being terminated is there is not enough money to maintain it. They told me that the same people that have been donating to The Midnight Mission are still donating. They are just giving less. They told me that there are five locations around the city being serviced by the Mobil Kitchen Program. They told me that it takes $350,000 a year to run the Mobil Kitchen Program. A staff person for a city councilmember told me that The Midnight Mission income was off about one million dollars from the previous year. Do the math, five locations seven days a week and up to 150 people at each location, that is a lot of meals that are going to be missed.
The Gladys and Sixth Street location (which happens to be the doorstep of The Hippie Kitchen), in the bottoms, is the fifth and final stop for the Mobile Kitchen Truck. The managers told me that they give out what food is left over from the other four stops at this location.
I am very concerned with the loss of the daily feed at Gladys and Sixth Street, the fifth and final stop of the Midnight Mission, Mobile Kitchen truck. Don’t get me wrong; I am very sympathetic for all of the people at the other four Mobile Kitchen locations, who will no longer be getting their meal. I also shutter to think about the people all over the country who are daily becoming more in need of food and the other necessities of life. Because the world economy is slowing down, charitable giving is falling off. More and more people worldwide are falling into hunger. I feel that humanity is truly standing into danger (nautical term).
Because the bottoms are my primary area of service, I have become very sensitive to the needs of the people who choose to call the bottoms home. It is less crowded in the bottoms. It is more industrial, with the majority of the businesses being warehousing and cold storage. There is much less retail business in the bottoms. The retail businesses that are located in the bottoms do a lot of trade with the homeless people. One would think the homeless people that live in the bottoms were less of a threat or an annoyance to the business community. I believe that to be so. The police however, are every bit as mean spirited in the bottoms as they are in western Skid Row
I know that the people who make the bottoms there home stay there by choice. I know this because in over two years of serving water to the people in the bottoms and western Skid Row I have gotten to know them, either by name or on sight. The people that live in the bottoms tend to remain in the bottoms. I think they like it less crowded. I think they like less case management to go along with the services that they receive. I think it is their right to make that choice.
One could ask, why can’t the people who chose to live in the bottoms just walk across San Pedro Street at eat at one of the two major missions? My answer to that is, we don’t need to be pushing these people into a smaller box. We do not need to be squeezing more people up against the western edge of western Skid Row. I also believe it is a good thing to take some pressure off of the services in the more crowded western Skid Row.
That is not to say there are not a lot more homeless people living outside Skid Row in both the city and the county of Los Angeles. There are. One very good thing about Skid Row and all of the services provided, it is that it gives the people who choose to call it home a sense of community.
Skid Row also serves as a landing place for people who have just become homeless and have no other place to turn, in their desperation. Some people want to change the name of Skid Row to something more positive. My response is that Skid Row has tremendous name recognition. Los Angeles City is a place of great wealth industry and culture. Los Angeles should be proud that they the offer a bottom for those who fall between the cracks of society.
It is for the above reasons that I feel compelled to try to help organize an effort to continue the feed at Gladys and Sixth Street that is being vacated by the Midnight Mission, Mobil Kitchen Program.