More than 12 organizations have joined hands in an effort to feed Asian American seniors in Orange County, California amid the COVID-19 crisis.
The initiative, known as Love Our Vulnerable and Elderly (or LOVE), specifically aims to provide Asian food to struggling seniors in hopes of giving them a sense of comfort in this challenging time.
Asian American seniors had relatively convenient access to Asian goods ahead of the pandemic. Now, quarantine policies effectively leave them stranded at home — in many cases, senior apartments with complete reliance on feeding programs.
The idea of Asian seniors struggling to eat foreign food had Ellen Ahn, executive director of Korean Community Services (Buena Park, CA), thinking of ways to help.
“[Asian food can] provide an extra level of comfort and security,” she told LAist.
Ahn tapped her friend, Tricia Nguyen, who runs Southland Integrated Services (Santa Ana, CA), an organization serving the Vietnamese community in Orange County. Soon, they started brainstorming with leaders of Chinese and Cambodian organizations.
It did not take long before a coalition of over 12 Asian American organizations was formed. They called it LOVE.
“A global pandemic is without a doubt a great threat to all, but we are coming to an understanding that some of us are more prone to its effect than others,” the coalition noted.
“We were tasked with the question, ‘What can we do for our grandparents and immunocompromised neighbors that have to fight the daily battle of choosing their health vs. getting groceries, or for the homeless folks that have a harder time accessing adequate PPE [personal protective equipment] and often live in high risk conditions?'”
Aside from Korean Community Services and Southland Integrated Services, the coalition includes Hope Community Services, Viet Rainbow of Orange County, Asian American Senior Citizens Service Center, South Asian Network, Viet Care, St. Joseph Health, BPSOS Center for Community Advancement, Advancing Cancer Control Together (a project of the Bristol Myers Squibb Foundation), Ocapica, The Cambodian Family, Advance OC, Vietnamese American Cancer Foundation and Orange County Herald Center.
LOVE runs an website where member organizations monitor inventories and share donations. Aside from their own resources, they also accept donations from the public, which they hope to use to buy Asian food staples like rice, noodles, soy sauce and fish sauce.
The coalition currently seeks to gather and package a pool of donations on June 6. From there, they will distribute boxes to at least 5,000 seniors.
Interestingly, the fact that staples in Asian diets are similar and vary only slightly streamlines the process. It also speaks volumes about how Asians can be united, especially at this time when the community faces a surge in hate crimes.
Aside from Asian American seniors, LOVE aims to feed immunocompromised individuals. They are also accepting toiletries and other basic necessities for donations.
If you’re interested in donating funds, giving supplies or volunteering your time with the initiative, head over here.
Feature Images via Love Our Vulnerable and Elderly / oclove.org