UCLA’s commitment to serving those who served goes back to the end of World War II, when its very first medical students helped treat soldiers returning from war at the West Los Angeles VA hospital. That effort grew into one of UCLA’s most robust academic partnerships, which today involves hundreds of students, trainees and faculty in medicine, nursing, public health, law and social work who assist thousands of veterans each year.
UCLA is proud to continue its strong partnership with the West Los Angeles VA hospital, and other organizations such as Village for Vets.
We are partnering with Village for Vets, a nonprofit organization. Village for Vets fills critical gaps in key services for homeless and at-risk veterans in greater Los Angeles. Through programs providing meals, emergency grants, support for basic needs, social support, and links to additional services, Village for Vets helps ensure Los Angeles’ homeless and at-risk veterans don’t fall through the cracks.
The pandemic swiftly exacerbated food insecurity across the nation; between April and July 2020, 1 in 4 L.A. County households experienced food insecurity. Pre-pandemic data demonstrate veterans experience much higher rates of food insecurity (27%) compared to the general population (15%); homeless veterans are even more likely to suffer from food insecurity.
As a result of the pandemic, homeless shelters have had to reduce capacity in order to maintain social distancing. With a probable rise in homelessness due to economic hardship, there has been an increase in veterans seeking relative safety on the West Los Angeles VA campus. The current encampment of 50+ homeless veterans presents a unique set of challenges in order to provide the veterans with a hot meal three times each day.
With your donation of any amount, UCLA will be able to provide at least one hot meal a day to the Veterans outside of the VA hospital in Westwood.
UCLA’s world renowned Housing and Hospitality Dining Services is currently operating at only 5% capacity, and is willing to provide the labor of over 500 full time and part-time team members to make this happen. Now, we just need you! Your donation will not be used whatsoever on labor, but instead on purchasing healthy foods and packaging for these meals.
In honor of Veterans Day, National Veterans & Military Families Appreciation Month, and the upcoming holiday season, we invite you to join our campaign to feed these homeless Veterans.
Our goal is 50 donations of any size; 1 in honor of each homeless Veteran currently camping in the relative safety on the VA campus.
First, this partnership will reduce food insecurity and hunger among homeless veterans on the West LA VA campus with the potential for improved health outcomes, including reduced risk and improved control of diet-related chronic diseases such as diabetes and hypertension. Furthermore, food insecurity has been associated with poorer mental health and psychosocial stressors regardless of socio-economic status. The provision of nutritious and delicious meals from H&H over an extended period of time has the potential to reduce food insecurity and promote the long-term mental and physical health and well-being of veterans.
The second primary benefit is the improvement of employee satisfaction and retention through continued skills training in H&H. Operating the kitchen during the time when students are not on campus will enable H&H to provide continued jobs and job training for its skilled, highly diverse dining workforce.
The third primary benefit of this partnership addresses the shared mission of the West LA VA, Village for Vets, and UCLA to encourage more homeless veterans in the Los Angeles metropolitan area to leave the streets and come to the relative safety of West LA VA campus. The campus offers not only a safe space but also the daily provision of resources and services focusing on the physical and mental well-being of veterans . We believe the freshly-prepared meals can help serve this mission by enhancing the attractiveness of these on-campus residential and well-being programs and thereby attracting more veterans to the site.