Nonprofit organizations About My Father’s Business and the FISH of West Valley Pantry will co-host a free “pop-up” dining event in Chatsworth on Saturday, Aug. 28. Along with donated gourmet meals and entertainment, free COVID-19 testing and vaccinations will be available without an appointment.
The event takes place in the parking lot of the Congregational Church of Chatsworth, from 1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Pastor Kathy Huck, founder and CEO of the About My Father’s Business, said her organization and the FISH of West Valley Pantry “have partnered” in the pop-ups since April as a way to engage multiple groups of people — but especially those who may be “income insecure or unhoused.”
“People who may not be having serious problems can [also] come out and enjoy the food and the music; it’s for the entire community,” she said. “But I feel that people who are “poor,” if you will, don’t want to feel like they’re getting handouts all the time. And it’s easier when we’re all there eating with them, and enjoying the atmosphere as a community.”
Saturday will be the fifth “pop-up” and the first time COVID-19 testing and vaccines are included.The Pacoima-based nonprofit MEND (Meet Each Need with Dignity) is providing the vaccines, Huck said.
Ana Cardenas, FISH program coordinator, is enthused about having testing and vaccinations.
“When we see our unhoused coming to the Food Pantry, when I talk with them I see a few of them are still living with misinformation,” Cardenas said.
“We have an obligation to reach out to our unhoused neighbors and help them by giving them a place [for testing and vaccinations] that they’re familiar with. And they’re definitely familiar with places like FISH.”
When a man who regularly comes to the pantry told Cardenas about his fears about the safety of COVID-19 vaccine, she had a ready reply.
“He said, ‘it’s not been tested,’ and it makes him scared. I told him, ‘Everyone of us here serving you today has been vaccinated. And we feel safe to keep serving you because we’ve been vaccinated and we want you to feel safe.’ He said, ‘okay, I’ll think about it.’ Even if he’s now thinking about it, that’s better than just saying no.
“And we’ll be doing more outreach ourselves to get the word out to everyone we can.”
The church is located at 20440 Lassen Street in Chatsworth.