Watts

‘I'm Hungry, Coach.' Three Words Help Start Food Program That Now Feeds Thousands in South LA

"One of our coaches was talking to a group of our boys. They were lethargic and the coaches really got on them, and one of our quiet kids turned around, and said, 'I’m hungry, coach," Keith Johnson said.

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Falcons Youth and Family Services, a nonprofit serving the kids in the Watts area, hands out 2,500 meals everyday Monday through Friday -- but food is just part of the gift.

"I feel like it’s very important for the community especially around here everyone is affected. People are getting fed, especially the kids," Alex Villagran said.

The program was born out of the organizations football and cheer program.

"One of our coaches was talking to a group of our boys. They were lethargic and the coaches really got on them, and one of our quiet kids turned around, and said, 'I’m hungry, coach," Keith Johnson of the program said.

Johnson realized that more than 50% of the nearly 200 kids in the program didn't know where their next meal would come from.

Falcons Youth and Family Services has been able to increase its food distribution during the pandemic, but another very important part of the organization hasn’t been able to operate.

Cheer and football has been suspended because of the pandemic, and kids in the Watts area are losing more than just an outdoor activity

"You knew where they were? They were in a safe environment. They were being taught, they were being taken care of, they were being fed. We don’t know what’s happening now," Johnson said.

Johnson wants to change that by refurbishing a warehouse to bring back small groups of kids. He's hoping the city grants permission, because the needs here are different, and the stakes sometimes are higher.

"By having them actively involved in programs you knew where they were during that critical hour," he said.

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