News Release

Latter-day Saints Partner with Interfaith and Community Leaders to Provide Hunger Relief as COVID-19 Takes a Devastating Toll on Oakland, California, Residents

Groups involved in the community-wide effort include faith-based, charitable and nonprofit organizations and the NAACP

In light of the challenges that many Bay Area residents are facing due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Latter-day Saints from the area partnered with a long list of Oakland, California, churches and charity organizations to help deliver more than 80,000 pounds of donated food to people in need.

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“Without the food here at ECAP [Emeryville Citizens Assistance Program], I would be really on my way down and out of [my] apartment,” said Patricia Levy-Phillips, who has lived in Oakland for most of her life.

Levy-Phillips was one of dozens of residents who waited patiently in a long line in front of the ECAP building in West Oakland.

There, food bank volunteers distributed boxes of donated fresh produce and other food items to people struggling to make ends meet.

A 19-year-old Chinese American resident, who asked not to be named, accompanied his grandmother with an empty foldable shopping cart as ECAP opened for food service.

“My grandparents — their mental health has been declining. My mom got laid off, and you know, we just had a lot more insecurity than ever [before]. And it’s just a difficult time, and we’re trying to get through this,” he said.

San Francisco and Oakland Area Organizations Accept Invitation to Pick up Food

Food donations arrived at another location early Friday morning, December 11, in the parking lot of the Oakland California Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

“I came up to the temple this morning to pick up a load,” said Bobby Miller, a former Berkeley, California, police captain.

Bobby Miller, Director of the Emeryville Citizens Assistance Program (ECAP), talks with the Church Newsroom team on Friday, December 11, 2020. Thanks to faith-based and community organization leaders like Miller, within just a few hours of the donations being picked up from Temple Hill, they had already arrived to the hands of the people that need it most.2020 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.

He and his sister Nellie Hannon founded the ECAP food bank more than 30 years ago. He explained that the pandemic has only increased the number of people going hungry.

“As COVID continues, the lines grow longer, and we are up to approximately 270 families daily, six days a week — that [is not counting] the food that we take to homeless encampments.”

The ECAP nonprofit organization was one of many Oakland-based community and faith organizations that accepted an invitation from the Church of Jesus Christ to help unload and distribute two semi-truckloads of food, donations sponsored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farmers to Families Food Box Program.

“We became aware of food available from the USDA that State Senators Nancy Skinner and Brian Dahle could get. But [the senators] wanted to get it to ‘the one,’” said Jay D. Pimentel, a local Latter-day Saint leader.

The food box initiative was organized in April as part of the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act. It has partnered with national, regional and local distributors whose workforces have been significantly impacted by the closure of food service businesses to purchase more than $4 billion in fresh produce, dairy and meat products from American producers.

“They came to our Church and asked could we facilitate the distribution. … So we gathered here on Temple Hill in Oakland and invited many local churches, food pantries and other places that serve the homeless and others," said Pimentel.

To accomplish the herculean task of picking up the 2,400 boxes of food, the Latter-day Saint Charities network, made up of many San Francisco and Oakland area faith groups and community-based organizations, arrived with empty trucks and vehicles.

“During this pandemic, a lot of families are in need, and it’s just a blessing that they are providing this opportunity for the community,” said Darren White, an executive board member of the Oakland chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

Latter-day Saint volunteers helped unload 20 pallets of family-sized food boxes.

“Anytime there is a desperate need and community organizations come together, it really means that we have a real desire to help people in their desperate situations,” said Pastor Anthony Paschal of Wings of Love Maranatha Ministries in East Oakland.

Pastor Paschal’s group has served people for more than 30 years with food, employment and educational services.

“We've become that center for [people] to be able to come to," he said.

‘We Are Doing What Jesus Came to Do’

Oakland 14
Latter-day Saint missionaries volunteer alongside members of the Oakland Police Activities League in Verdese Carter Park on Friday, December 11, 2020, in Oakland, California. The non-profit group was one of the many San Francisco and Oakland area organizations that the Church used to distribute more than 80,000 pounds of USDA-sponsored food to people in need during the pandemic.2020 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.

Alongside Latter-day Saint Charities, local community, faith-based and charity organizations arrived from far and wide to help distribute the USDA donations. These organizations included the NAACP, the Interfaith Council of Alameda County, Wings of Love Maranatha Ministries, The Miraculous Foundation, the Fred Finch Youth and Family Services and others.

“This is an example of ‘blessed are they that do,’ not those that preach about only what needs to be done. But [the Church] knows how to do it, and they practice what they preach,” said Paul Cobb, a longtime NAACP member and owner of the Oakland Post, at the distribution event.

“We are the ambassadors of Christ, so we are doing what Jesus came to do. … He fed the thousands of hungry people, and that’s what we’re doing,” said Pastor Jenee Scott from The Miraculous Foundation, a faith-based ministry that also feeds people on a weekly basis.

Food Boxes Make Their Way to Oakland and San Francisco Residents in Need

Oakland 13
People facing economic hardship stand in line on the sidewalk of the Emeryville Citizens Assistance Program (ECAP) in west Oakland on Friday, December 11, 2020. Earlier that day, ECAP co-founder Bobby Miller picked up boxes of food donations that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints helped distribute on behalf of the Farmers to Families Food Box Program. 2020 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.


“The black community benefits greatly from this, the Hispanic community, Asian community and those in need,” shared Cobb.

Within just a few hours of the donations being picked up from Temple Hill, they had already arrived at one of their many final destinations.

“Seeing the sympathy has really helped me keep the faith,” said the 19-year-old Oakland resident, as he helped his grandmother place their boxes of food donations into their shopping cart.

“I’m getting some of my food to fill my pantries, and then I share what I have left,” said Levy-Phillips, after loading the food she received into her vehicle.

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