Serving Larchmont Village, Hancock Park, and the Greater Wilshire neighborhoods of Los Angeles since 2011.

H.O.D.G. Celebrates One Year Anniversary of Sunday Lunch Drive

H.O.D.G. and the Hollywood Food Coalition marked one year of the H.O.D.G. Sunday Lunch Drive. More than 200,000 lunches were delivered to unsheltered neighbors.

With more than 200,000 lunches over the last year, the local grassroots group H.O.D.G (Hang Out Do Good) and the Hollywood Food Coalition have been providing meals to service providers who have, in turn, been feeding unsheltered people across the city every Sunday.

This past Sunday, volunteers from H.O.D.G. gathered on Zoom to take a moment to celebrate this amazing effort and learn more about where their lunches are going.

It all started when H.O.D.G. organizers Jennifer Levin and Helen Eigenberg were looking for a way to distribute lunches their volunteers made.

“Before the pandemic, every Sunday, we would collect brown bags lunches made by H.O.D.G. volunteers and Jen and I would deliver them to unhoused people on Skid Row,” Helen Eigenberg told the Buzz. “But once we were all locked down, everyone still wanted to help, but we couldn’t deliver the lunches any more.”

Around the same time, Hancock Park resident Kerry Morrison, founder and project director for Heart Forward LA, working on transforming mental healthcare with a community-based approach, convened a conversation on ways to meet the increasing demand for food. Eigenberg participated in the call, and asked if someone might want her groups’ lunches.  John Billingsley, a longtime volunteer with the Hollywood Food Coalition, said yes, enthusiastically!

That next week Levin and Eigenberg dropped off 200 lunches in brown bags decorated by volunteers. Decorating the bags was a H.O.D.G. signature. The idea is to make the bag more than food. It is gesture of kindness and an effort to connect the donor and the recipient with a small personal statement of shared humanity.

Recently Levin shared some photos of decorated bags. In her weekly email, Levin wrote,”The sole purpose of lunch bag art is to make someone happy, to add joy to their life.   No one’s making any money — or fame, or “likes” —  off lunch bag art.  They’re spreading joy.  That’s it.  Full stop.”


The following week, Levin and Eigenberg dropped off 400 lunches, and every week the number grew. As the number of donations grew, Bonnie Friedericy, longtime volunteer with Hollywood Food Coalition (HoFoCo), realized she needed a system to receive the lunches and get them back into the community. In short order, she created a system for what she now calls the “Sunday Lunch Bag Bonanza,” because it wasn’t intentional, it just became one.

Now she has volunteers from the HoFoCo take the lunches from H.O.D.G. volunteers. The bags are quality controlled, checked to make sure they are all equally nice, and then they are sorted and separated for all the various service providers, who then take them out into the city. And some volunteers who aren’t near Hollywood have started delivering them directly to providers. According to Friedericy, there are now 13 locations where nearly 7,000 lunches made by moe than 700 H.O.D.G. volunteer families are dropped off weekly. Friedericy counted 233,801 lunches to date that she has shared with various social service providers, who take the meals directly into the community as part of their outreach work.

“We want to give providers what they need. We don’t want to overwhelm them with stuff they can’t use, otherwise it all goes to waste,” explained Friedericy. “We have between 30 and 40 providers picking up lunches from us every Sunday. We have never missed a Sunday this entire year!”

The Hollywood Food Coalition was the perfect partner for H.O.D.G. because both groups believe in the healing power of food.  For H.O.D.G. it’s about the kindness that goes into the bags – many are filled with books, jokes, cards, masks, and sanitary products, as well as food. HoFoCo strives to make sure the food it serves and shares makes people feel good and brings joy, according to its website. It also strives to give recipients the dignity of making a choice.

“We label very bag, so providers can offer recipients a choice,” explained HoFoCo executive director, Sherry Bonanno, a Brookside resident who has been working at HoFoCo as an unpaid volunteer for more than 20 years. (She started working full-time and earning a salary just as the pandemic started.)

“We have been feeding between people in Hollywood every night for 30 years,” said Bonanno. “We get to know people. They start to trust us and we can help them find services.”

Between 170 and 220 people come for dinner every night at the HoFoCo campus. In addition, the group provides weekly medical care through a partnership with UCLA Medical Center, and it also operates a food recovery and exchange program. The exchange program allows it to receive donations that would otherwise go to waste, and to get that food into the community.

HoFoCo started serving soup with the H.O.D.G. lunches Monday through Friday, offering unsheltered people the dignity of sitting down for a meal in a consistent place with volunteers who are not part of the government, explained Bonanno.

“I love all the extra thought that goes into what they do,” said Bonanno. “We are very grateful and this is really a great story about how they are helping.”

The Sunday H.O.D.G. celebration was also a fundraiser. It raised nearly $10,000 for HOFOCO. To say thank you, the volunteers as HoFoCo created the 2 1/2-minute video below. Thanks to both organizations for sharing it with the Buzz.  It’s pretty amazing to see people pitching in and helping out their neighbors.



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Patricia Lombard
Patricia Lombard
Patricia Lombard is the publisher of the Larchmont Buzz. Patty lives with her family in Fremont Place. She has been active in neighborhood issues since moving here in 1989. Her pictorial history, "Larchmont" for Arcadia Press is available at Chevalier's Books.

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