LOS ANGELES – Responding to a broadcast report, the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority said Tuesday its employees throw uneaten food in dumpsters “to protect the health and safety of the people they serve.”
CBSLA said Monday its investigative team monitored LAHSA teams for months as they were tasked with picking up food and bringing it to people on the street. While many outreach workers were seen folding up empty boxes that previously held food — which the station presumed had been after all the food was distributed — another team allegedly drove around and stopped at Target, Starbucks and McDonald’s without stopping to hand out food to unhoused people along the way.
Once that team returned to its office, the workers were caught on camera throwing a full case of food in the dumpster, CBSLA reported. Another team was also seen throwing food in the dumpster a block from people who were living on the street.
LAHSA responded Tuesday saying that “the health of the people we serve is of the utmost importance to LAHSA and our outreach teams.”
“The lunches LAHSA outreach teams provide to our unsheltered neighbors are perishable. While an outreach team will take out enough meals to serve everyone in their assigned area, not all of the people they encounter will accept them. When our teams have excess meals, they can give the meals to entities — like shelters or service providers — that can distribute them,” LAHSA said.
“Otherwise, the teams discard the excess meals to protect the health and safety of the people they serve.”
City Attorney Mike Feuer said Tuesday he wrote a letter to LAHSA’s senior management calling for an explanation.
“With so many people experiencing homelessness desperate for food on our streets, this apparent waste of taxpayer-funded resources is inexplicable and utterly unacceptable,” Feuer wrote. “This news report raises a host of pertinent questions and requires that LAHSA ensure an immediate investigation is conducted.”
Feuer asked LAHSA if it has written protocols for the distribution of food, who is responsible for ensuring the protocols are followed and if discarding undistributed food violates the protocols. He also asked what corrective action will be taken to ensure that food is not wasted again.