Bicycle Meals Volunteers Getting Ready for a Ride Photo: LA Times Myung Chun
Bicycle Meals is a community funded volunteer group in Koreatown LA. Bicycle Meals meets 3 times a week and rides around the Koreatown LA area to provide meals & water to those that need it the most.
Sustained by its members and the local community without governmental support, Bicycle Meals seeks to solve one of the most important problems for the unhoused population in Koreatown LA: hunger.
In 2020, when COVID-19 went into full swing, founder Michael Pak began noticing that the number of those in need and specifically the unhoused rose to an all time high. Having lived in Koreatown LA for the last decade, Mike always knew that there were people in need, but realized the city wasn’t doing much to help.
Calling upon the community’s most loving figures, Mike Pak, Alex Gilbertson, Natalie Gilbertson, Max Banta, and Jacob H, joined forces to channel their creative geniuses and humanity focused hearts, bringing to life Bicycle Meals.
Although some disagree with feeding the unhoused population and have a “not in my backyard” attitude towards the idea, co-founder Max Banta of Bicycle Meals makes it very clear while they alone are not solving the unhoused crisis but are instead seeing those in need as humans, community members, and simply providing a basic need, even if it’s just solving hunger one day at a time.
Max Banta and the team believe that solving the problem of hunger for those in need even for a couple hours will nourish their minds and ultimately lead to healthier steps. This mindset of Bicycle Meals is not just a belief, in fact it is a widely agreed upon truth that organizations across the nation attest to as well.
The National Coalition for the Homeless says it’s a “myth” that feeding programs enable the homeless to remain homeless. “Food-sharing programs often represent the only way some homeless individuals will have access to healthy, safe food on a given day,” it said in a 2014 report. “Due to illness, disability, or a lack of access to transportation, many rely on food being distributed in areas near them.”
Bicycle Meals is such a positive organization for Koreatown LA simply because they are focused on giving instead of taking or transacting with the community. While the great majority of those in Koreatown LA are looking to get something from the community in a transactional nature, Bicycle Meals gives while asking for nothing in return.
It is so refreshing to see such a transformational organization like Bicycle Meals stay focused on giving without any expectations of getting something back in the modern world of transactional relationships.
The best way to support Bicycle Meals is to join one of their rides (3x week) and/or their meal prep nights at Immanuel Presbyterian, a beautifully iconic Art Deco church right in the heart of Koreatown on Wilshire Blvd. If you’d like to donate to Bicycle Meals, Venmo @koreatown founder Michael Pak with the note “Bicycle Meals”. 100% of donations go to meal prep nights.
Although Bicycle Meals started strong and continued to grow throughout 2020, co-founder Max Banta pointed out that the number of volunteers has certainly dwindled ever since the COVID-19 restrictions were lifted in April of 2021.
Now more than ever, Bicycle Meals needs the community’s support and calls upon anyone and everyone that has the space in their heart to dedicate one hour a week for the sake of humanity. Join them in their vision to help solve hunger in our beautiful neighborhood, Koreatown LA. We already have.
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