South LA Cafe fights food inequity through coffee, community

American Hero

(NewsNation Now) — South LA Cafe is putting the community first, serving up coffee and connection.

Joe and Celia Ward-Wallace, two lifelong South Los Angeles residents, are passionate about coffee but wanted their community to have access to fresh, affordable, healthy food options.

So, they opened their cafe after decades of living in a food desert.

“We’re just trying to provide for the community. Since COVID hit, it ignited us to want to do something about people not having a way to get something to eat,” Joe explained. “So we created what we call the grocery giveaway.”

Celia said that for more than 100 weeks now, the couple has distributed free groceries to 1,000 people a week in the community.

“We say coffee, community, connection. The coffee is what brings the community and the connection is what they receive,” she explained. “And the mission is playing out every day in our own backyard here. So it’s so fantastic.”

Joe knows firsthand about visiting food pantries, and that’s what inspired him.

“I used to be in those lines, and I knew how it felt to be in that line. It was me and my mom — we were a little embarrassed to be there,” he explained. “What we do in our grocery giveaway is we want the people to feel welcome.

“We’ve changed it, we changed the narrative,” he added. “And what I mean by that is that we make it a happy place — or try to. We make … people feel dignity, we play music, we’re going down the line, we’re speaking to everyone.”

Celia said they primarily fund the grocery giveaways through donations, and $40 feeds a family of four for a week.

If you’d like to make a donation or volunteer at South LA Cafe, click here.

© 1998 - 2022 Nexstar Media Inc. | All Rights Reserved.

Trending on NewsNation

Elections 2022

More Elections 2022