Susan Lyle and Kara Ruiz, who both grew up in the South Bay, wanted to raise awareness and help families right here in local neighborhoods who are struggling.
So, in March, as the coronavirus began to spread across the country, they brought an East coast friend's simple concept to the West coast: Have one family who has plenty purchase groceries for another who is struggling.
Families 4 Families began in Washington, D.C. by Amanda Marshall, a friend of Lyle's.
Lyle and Ruiz liked the simple model and—with the help of the Redondo Beach Salvation Army—have been able to provide food to hungry families here in the South Bay.
“We didn't want to create our own organization,” Ruiz said. “We wanted to piggyback on somebody else who's already had that expertise. And that's how we've been able to help.”
The pair is seeking groceries that can be dropped off at several points and then will be distributed by the Salvation Army to families who seek help.
They are happy for any type of donations, Lyle said, but most needed are fresh items such as eggs, milk or meats.
“The food banks get a lot of canned goods and box goods, but not a lot of fresh stuff,” Lyle said. “A couple months into it, we added rotisserie chickens. You would you would not believe the joy people were getting from getting rotisserie chicken.”
Ruiz said they donate meals to 10 to 15 families per week, which includes peanut butter, oil for cooking, bread, eggs and milk, as well as that popular rotisserie chicken.
While Ruiz never left the South Bay, Lyle had lived on the east coast for 20 years. She and her family came back for Spring Break in March, got stuck here because of COVID-19 and never left. They were supposed to move here in July.
On their website, https://www.families4familiessb.org/ volunteers can pick time slots to donate groceries. Lyle said they will either pick up the groceries or have them dropped off at one of their homes. People can also donate money, which will be used to buy groceries.
During the recent protests in Santa Monica, Lyle said the Salvation Army, which has one of its main distribution centers in the city, could not give out food to people in need and had to turn them away.
“Luckily, Kara and I were able to step up and reach out through social media,” Lyle said.
Lyle said people were thankful for the food.
“We've met so many wonderful people that are just struggling and they're so grateful every time we show up with this food,” Lyle said.
“That's where our commitment and our dedication (is) because we grew up here,” Ruiz said. “We rode our bikes, skateboarded here. We went to the beach and we want to continue to help people here.”