When the pandemic struck early last year, a team of Culver City leaders sprung 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.
“There were people who lost their jobs and truly didn’t know where their next meal was coming,” said Culver City Councilman Göran Eriksson, who was one of the organization’s co-founders. “At the same time, our local restaurants were struggling to stay afloat amid all of the closures and restrictions imposed to keep spread of the virus at bay. FeedCulver stepped in, raising 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, more than 30,000 meals, approximately 160 meals per day, have been delivered to struggling Culver City families. The volunteer ranks have swelled to more than 90, and FeedCulver has a wide array of partners from the City of Culver City and the city’s Downtown Business Association to the Culver City Chamber of Commerce and the Culver City Exchange Club.
Grace Diner is a non-profit community diner that has served thousands of meals to those experiencing food insecurity in Culver City since 2019. They operate out of Grace Lutheran Church. When Covid-19 hit, the Diner quickly established a takeout meal program to keep feeding those in need.
So far, FeedCulver has helped support 21 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, Sake House by Hikari, Yalla Mediterranean Grill, 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: 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.