Senator Bob Hertzberg (D-Van Nuys), along with Assemblymembers Adrin Nazarian (D-Sherman Oaks) and Jesse Gabriel (D-Woodland Hills), celebrated California’s $5.7 million 2021 budget allocation to expand Jewish Family Service LA’s SOVA Community Food & Resource Program (JFS SOVA) in Van Nuys on Thursday.
“This funding is essential to feeding countless families here in the Valley,” said Senator Hertzberg. “Our Valley neighborhoods have relied on Jewish Family Service LA for decades and the state’s investment recognizes the unique role it plays in the health and stability of our community, especially as we continue to face the ongoing impacts of the pandemic.”
Senator Hertzberg and Assemblymember Nazarian worked to secure the vital funding during the state’s budget process in the State Senate and Assembly, respectively.
“JFS SOVA is a lifeline to my community, the entire Valley, and those struggling across all of LA,” said Assemblymember Nazarian, “This $5.7 million-dollar investment is critical to allow JFS SOVA to continue providing life-saving groceries and support to the ever-growing number of individuals and families struggling to meet their most basic needs.”
Chair of the California Legislative Jewish Caucus Assemblymember Gabriel also joined to celebrate the funding.
“It’s a huge win for our community that JFS will have a permanent home in the heart of the San Fernando Valley,” said Assemblymember Gabriel. “JFS does incredible work to feed and uplift Valley residents of all backgrounds and has provided vital assistance to thousands of individuals and families during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Jewish Caucus was proud to support this budget request and we applaud Assemblymember Nazarian and Senator Hertzberg for their tremendous leadership in securing these vital state resources.”
Since 1983, JFS SOVA has provided critical resources to families throughout Los Angeles who are experiencing poverty and hunger. JFS SOVA in Van Nuys is the program’s central hub and is easily accessible by public transportation, bicycle, or car. As a fixture in the San Fernando Valley for decades and renting at its current location since 2005, JFS SOVA has deep connections with its clients, community and partners.
Jewish Family Service LA will use this allocation to purchase the property JFS SOVA has been renting in order to protect current service levels and ensure continued critical operations in the Van Nuys area. Taking ownership of the site means Jewish Family Service LA can plan to fully rehab the existing warehouse and pantry site to add additional refrigeration/freezer capacity that will allow them to provide more, healthier groceries to people in need. With the ability to incorporate the empty storefronts into program delivery and upgrade those spaces, Jewish Family Service LA will be able to enhance and expand the services available on-site to individuals and families that need them.
“For more than 40 years, the JFS SOVA has been a lifeline for those facing hunger in Los Angeles. Jewish Family Service LA is deeply grateful for Assemblymember Nazarian and Senator Hertzberg’s leadership which will allow us to transform a rental property into a permanent home with expanded service capacity. Together, they are a strong voice in the state legislature and their commitment to the community will ensure that JFS can continue to provide much needed groceries and wrap-around services for Angelenos of all backgrounds,” stated Eli Veitzer, President & CEO, and Nina Tassler, Board Chair, Jewish Family Service LA, “This remarkable investment by the State of California will benefit individuals and families throughout the San Fernando Valley for generations to come.”
The current JFS SOVA Community Food & Resource Program in Van Nuys houses a 5-day per week food pantry distribution center, counseling, and case management offices, drop in space for partner organizations, warehouse space and program administration. Even before the current crisis, it was very difficult for people living in poverty to access multiple services.
Throughout the pandemic, JFS SOVA rapidly transitioned and expanded its services:
- Providing nutritious food to more than 5,700 people each month; over 2.9 million pounds of groceries since the pandemic began.
- Delivering groceries to the doors of over 1,300 homebound older adults and people with differing abilities each month.
- Providing telephonic access to multilingual social workers to help with benefit enrollment and other critical needs.