What is SOVA?

SOVA is a program of Jewish Family Service of Los Angeles, a non-sectarian agency, dedicated to alleviating hunger and poverty in the community through food distribution and offering a wide range of supportive services.

The SOVA Program has 11 full-time and part-time paid staff and hundreds of volunteers who work at the two neighborhood SOVA pantries on a weekly (core volunteers) or an occasional basis. Many core volunteers have been with the program for over twenty years. Students volunteer throughout the year, often fulfilling their school community service requirements at SOVA pantries.

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What does the word "SOVA" mean?

SOVA is taken from the Hebrew word “savah” which means to eat or drink and be satisfied, or satiated.

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Where does SOVA provide services?

SOVA operates two neighborhood Food Pantry and Resource Center sites in greater Los Angeles. One is in the Pico-Robertson neighborhood and the second is in Van Nuys in the San Fernando Valley.

Click for Locations, Hours, and Directions.

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Who is eligible for assistance?

Anyone living within our service area with very low income is eligible to receive assistance at a SOVA Center. Generally the eligibility guideline is yearly income at or below 150% of the federal poverty level ($36,375 for a family of four). However, when determining eligibility we take into consideration the high cost of living in Los Angeles and individual circumstances that may place a family in crisis. Nobody coming to SOVA for the first time is ever turned away without food. Generally people are eligible to visit a pantry once a month.  Click for Eligibility Guidelines.

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Who seeks help from a SOVA Center?

People are referred to the program by social service providers, government offices, other nutrition programs, health facilities and through word of mouth. Clients include the elderly, families with young children, individuals earning low wages, people living with chronic illness, people who are homeless, the recently and chronically unemployed, people with disabilities and others who struggle to live on very low, or no, income. The majority of SOVA clients are people who have stable housing, but whose monthly incomes are insufficient to meet their family’s needs. SOVA pantries assist an average of over 9,000 people each month.

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What services are offered at SOVA sites?

Food Pantry: Each pantry is staffed by a manager, an assistant manager and trained volunteers. The sites are colorful, welcoming and comfortable environments where priority is placed on respecting the dignity and individuality of all who seek our help. Pantries are stocked with high quality, nutritious canned and packaged foods, bakery products and fresh produce. The pantry provides a 5 day supply of free groceries and personal hygiene products (when needed) for each family member.

Resource Center: Within each food pantry facility is a Resource Center. The Resource Center’s professional staff and para-professional volunteers provide information and referral to other community services and help people find solutions to other challenges. Examples of referrals include shelter, free medical services, free vision care, homeless services, clothing resources, employment, senior services and child care.

In addition, through the expanded Community Connections “one stop” project, community specialists provide services on-site on a regular basis. Currently those services include free legal counseling, job counseling, food stamp and MediCal enrollment.

JFS social workers are on-site at the two pantries to provide short-term counseling, case management, and navigation of other systems to link with essential social services and community resources.

Each site also features a Children’s Corner, where children can enjoy books while waiting, and then select a few books to take home to create their own libraries.

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How does SOVA acquire food and supplies for the pantries?

Food is acquired from four primary sources:

  • Community food drives are held on SOVA’s behalf throughout the year at schools, businesses, congregations and community events. Hundreds of thousands of pounds of groceries are collected annually.
  • The Los Angeles Regional Food Bank and Westside Food Bank provide United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) surplus commodities (such as canned and packaged fruits, vegetables, cereals, meats, dry milk) free of charge. Also, we can purchase case goods at prices lower than at warehouse style stores.
  • Vendors regularly donate fresh bread, produce, overstock, products near expiration, and personal hygiene products to the program.
  • Purchasing is necessary when items we regularly stock are not available through other means. Examples include canned meats, fish and other protein sources, liquid supplement for people living with illness, and foods that can be eaten from the container (for people who are homeless or have no cooking facilities.) Kosher, vegetarian, low/no sodium and low/no sugar products are provided for people with special dietary needs.

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What are SOVA’s funding sources?

The SOVA Program is funded by the Jewish Federation of Los Angeles, the Harold Edelstein Foundation, the Emergency Food and Shelter Program (a federal government program), the City of West Hollywood, numerous corporate and private foundations and donations from individuals. People celebrating life-cycle events often request donations to SOVA in lieu of gifts.

In addition, SOVA’s fundraising includes donations through tribute cards sent for life-cycle and other events and the Baskets of Hope Centerpiece Project that “rents” custom-decorated food basket table centerpieces for personal and organizational events in exchange for a monetary donation to the program.

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What kind of help does the SOVA program need?

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SOVA Community Food & Resource Program  - Click For Locations & Hours
Main Office: 16439 Vanowen Street Van Nuys, CA 91406   818-988-7682

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