5 million meals are pretty difficult to visualize. That’s 7 million pounds of healthy food, given for free, during the past year of the pandemic and economic crisis. But, instead of considering going back to ‘normal,' the LA Dream Center is expanding programs through an initiative called “Restore LA.”
Co-founder, Pastor Matthew Barnett shares the amazing story. “We kept our food line going for over 350 straight days in a row, people coming by to get meals, food, diapers, everything. And what we thought would last for one week has turned into over a year and, even today, cars are lined up everywhere coming through. It’s been a great testimony to the community of our church and the longevity and commitment really rebuilding the neighborhood.”
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Pastor Barnett says trust was built with area restaurants, and Justin Turner with the Los Angeles Dodgers - and others - started buying food from restaurants that were closing down due to the pandemic and donating it directly to the Dream Center. “The blessings of God were like a hot potato. We would get it [the food] and we would give it to the people as soon as possible. That’s what made it really remarkable.”
The Dream Center has much more going on. They’ve been helping kids with remote learning, allowing parents – often single moms – the opportunity to work outside the home. They also have 42 units available for homeless families, “whose lives are being put back together again.”
With so much being offered, how does the Dream Center cover the costs? Pastor Barnett acknowledges when the pandemic began, they only had enough money in the bank for two weeks and the thought, “it’s over,” did cross his mind. “And I thought to myself, ‘if we’re in this situation, this difficult, everything shut down in our city, and 40% unemployment in our neighborhood, if we’re going to go out, we’re going to go out serving,’ that’s what I told God. We’re going to go out throwing every last rock at the giant that we possible can in helping. And, sure enough, here we are over a year later and we’re able to do everything that God’s called us to do,” even expanding services to the community. “It’s just like our God to do something so impossible in a time where we thought it would be the hardest to succeed and flourish. We just believe that God loves the city more than we do and He’s honoring the dreams in our hearts that have to do with serving other people.”
What keeps Pastor Barnett going and serving, despite constant challenges? Learn that and more in our complete podcast below: