Bread of Life

FEB16food4They’ve seen it all. From addicts who have kicked their heroin habit for good to immigrants who started a new life in a daunting city, the pastors at Bread of Life Foursquare Gospel Church have collected endless stories of spiritual recovery during the past 20 years. 

As part of their mission to meet the spiritual and material needs of the community, Bread of Life has focused its efforts on feeding the hungry.

“People should understand food is a stabilizing force in their community. It's a need that’s here to stay,” said Pastor Nancy Eskijian, one of the church’s co-founders.

The church provides food to about 3,000 people every month but it has reached a point FEB16food1where it receives more food donations than it can financially handle. The Protestant evangelical Pentecostal Christian organization at the corner of Washington Boulevard and Cloverdale is looking for financial assistance to pay the costs of distributing food to those who need it most. The neighbors lining up for hot meals and food packages come from all walks of life, ethnicities, and faiths.

We see the elderly, we see kids,” Eskijian said. “The majority of people who come to the church and get food are not homeless. There’s a lot of people who come by who just need food.”

Feb16food8The organization distributes food at the church (details below), at another foodbank at the Imperial Courts Housing Project in Watts, and at other nonprofits in the community. 

Bread of Life receives a steady supply of food as a member of the Foodbank of Southern California, in addition to donations from Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, Smart & Final, and other grocers. 

“Most of the time, people have more food than they can carry away,” Eskijian said.

FEB16food6The foodbank’s regular donations include freshly baked bread and pastries, high-quality meat and poultry, and fresh produce.

“There are times when we get crates and crates of fresh, beautiful apples,” said Bread of Life co-founder Elle Wohl.

However, having such a rich supply of food also presents challenges. Bread of Life is receiving so much food, that the cost of distributing it has become a financial hardship.

“It’s a blessing we have all that we have but then we need to package it,”  Wohl said.

FEB16food7This is where costs add up quickly. Distributing food requires plastic bags and giving out prepared meals requires serving supplies. The Foodbank of Southern California inspects the church’s facilities regularly to ensure that food is stored properly before it is passed out, which means pest control and proper equipment are a must. Keeping refrigerators running at adequate temperatures and simply having the doors open requires a hefty budget for monthly rent and utilities. A van was purchased recently to transport food from Bread of Life to its Watts foodbank and to its community partners.


The pastors say monetary contributions from community members, the church, and private sources help pay for all these overhead costs but this model is not sustainable. Powered by prayer, Wohl and Eskijian have a fundraising goal of $100,000 this year.

“People need to understand it’s not like we’re spending it on ourselves,” Eskijian said. “We just need money to keep the lights on, pay the water bill, buy supplies. That would be a big burden lifted.”

To meet this goal, Eskijian and Wohl are looking for a volunteer with experience in grant writing and a consistent commitment to help. This individual would help submit applications and establish relationships with funding sources to position the church to win grants and subsidies. This need stems from the church’s unsuccessful attempts to apply for government funding or reach public officials. The pastors are at their wits’ end. 

A member of the church worked on securing a $500 grant from Councilman Herb Wesson’s office once, but this effort fell through, according to Eskijian. Wohl said it has been very difficult to connect with representatives in the council district office, or any government agency at all.

“We’d like the mayor to know what’s going on in the inner city and all the help we give,” Wohl said.

The pastors anticipate the foodbank's demand will continue growing. They are currently servicing more people than they ever have.

Feb16food3“The world’s becoming a harder place for people to survive,” Eskijian said.

They are “praying for more funding sources” and anyone who can help find them. In addition to conversations with a doctor who would like to add a healthcare component to Bread of Life, their vision is to grow into “an inner-city faith center.” Their wish list includes offering classes in topics such as computer, cooking, and financial literacy to help the community integrate into the wider economy.






FEB16food9On the spiritual end, the pastors expect to continue witnessing nothing short of amazing, life-changing experiences.


“You’ll see more of the spiritual miracles going on on Sunday,” Wohl promised.

Distribution at Bread of Life

Wednesday, 11am to 12:30pm

Lunch is also served to attendees of Wednesday’s 12:30pm service

Attendees of Sunday’s 12:30pm service receive food after the service ends

Distribution at Imperial Courts Housing Project

Thursday 10:30am to noon

" Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.' Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?' 

"The King will reply, 'Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.'"

 
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Established in August of 2008 by writerartist Dianne V. Lawrence, The Neighborhood News covers the events, people, history, politics and historic architecture of communities throughout the Mid-City and West Adams area in Los Angeles Council District 10.

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