Nourishing Our Neighbors for the Holidays

Foothill Unity Center will distribute 3,400 boxed Thanksgiving meals in the next week.

As the holiday season unfolds each year, nourishing food, gratitude, and community giving take center stage, and nowhere is this more evident than at charitable organizations addressing the food needs of Pasadena-area residents. This week we spotlight two of PCF’s recent 2020 COVID-19 Response Fund grantees, Union Station Homeless Services and Foothill Unity Center, to learn how the pandemic has complicated holiday programs this year. Both organizations have had to adapt services in order to meet growing food insecurity, and here they share how our community can bolster their efforts in November and December.

Foothill Unity Center

Efforts are well underway for both Thanksgiving and December holidays at Foothill Unity Center (FUC), and community donations are proving critical this year. Food services outreach has always been a central component of FUC’s mission, but this year, the need has increased exponentially: Between January and October, FUC has assisted 12,338 individuals, with an astonishing 72% of that total going to new families. And, in providing nearly 50,000 food services this year – the equivalent of nearly 1.3 million meals – FUC has already distributed twice the number of food services as in all of 2019.

To help its expanded clientele celebrate the season, FUC will distribute 3,400 Thanksgiving boxed meals, as well as Christmas boxes with fixings for a large holiday meal, plus clothing and toys for children, expected to assist 1,500 families and seniors. FUC is grateful to accept in-kind or financial donations to support any of these efforts, as Executive Director Betty McWilliams emphasizes: “We have a history of being able to meet the need because of the generosity of community members and our partners. This year more than ever, we could not do this without them.”

Union Station Homeless Services

At Union Station Homeless Services (USHS), preparations are in full swing for the 50th anniversary Dinner in the Park, typically scheduled for Thanksgiving Day in Pasadena’s Central Park. This year’s circumstances means the abundant outdoor meal will not take place, but USHS knows the celebration will be just as impactful. Clients can choose from two take-home options: a meal box with “all the fixings” for clients who have access to a kitchen and want to prepare the meal themselves, or a prepared hot meal to bring home. Festive sit-down dinners are also scheduled for the residents at the Adult Center, Family Center, and Centennial Place.

As always, USHS staff relies on the Pasadena community to pull together the ingredients and assist with the logistics of feeding hundreds of our neighbors. David Sensente, Senior Manager of In-Kind Donations at USHS, was thrilled with the recent outpouring of support when USHS placed an urgent call for frozen turkey donations. “It was amazing, the community came out to support us, and we received donations of 250 turkeys. We’ll be ready to serve our meals once we get our final donations – we still need 300 pies and 1,000 each of water bottles and sodas.” Sensente also notes that grocery cards are very appreciated this fall. Clients who are homebound during the pandemic can use the cards to shop online.

David Sensente, Senior Manager In-Kind Donations at USHS, also encourages grocery card donations for homebound clients.

PCF grantee organizations count on all of us sharing our goodwill and support this season. Visit Union Station and Foothill Unity Center to learn what donations are needed and how you can help our neighbors stay nourished and healthy for the holidays.