By Jorge Garcia
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – A Los Angeles food bank created to support low-income families is now coming to the aid of striking and struggling Hollywood actors and writers, some of whom show up for free groceries with tears in their eyes.
The World Harvest Food Bank on Venice has opened its doors to aid members of the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) and the Writer’s Guild of America (WGA), who must show their union cards to receive a bag of groceries, including fresh produce.
“A lot of us are working three to four jobs to make it happen. We’re barely middle class as it is,” SAG member Kristina Wong told Reuters at the food bank.
“We’re uninsured, we are food insecure and something that I’m seeing in here is folks who are in tears because they’re literally not sure how they’re gonna put together a living,” she added.
Actors went on strike on July 14 and writers on May 2, in first dual work stoppage in 63 years, forcing studios to halt many productions across the United States and abroad. Both unions are asking studios for higher pay and guardrails around the use of artificial intelligence, which they say threatens their livelihoods.
Wong wanted to find ways to help her fellow union members, and that meant reaching out to the founder of the food bank, Glen Curado.
Curado created the local food bank in 2007 with the goal to serve impoverished community members while also advocating for a zero waste system to protect the planet.
“When I made this offer to SAG and WGA, it just really really floored me because people were coming in here and they didn’t have money, like they’re losing their houses and cars,” Curado said.
Like Wong, he said he’s seen people shed tears as they share the hardships they’ve faced both before and during the strikes.
“It’s not just somebody on strike that wants a few dollars more,” he added.
This is particularly true for SAG members like Niketa Calame-Harris, who appreciates the “peace of mind” going to the food bank creates for her and her daughter.
“If I’m running low there’s somewhere that has me, that has my back,” she said with a cart full of groceries.
(Reporting by Jorge Garcia; Writing by Danielle Broadway; Editing by Mary Milliken and Aurora Ellis)