ACTION is an acronym for Area Congregations Together In One Name. In 1996 a group of five small Lutheran churches joined forces so that together they could be strengthened to better serve their communities in the San Gabriel Valley. Over the years the committee evolved to including Episcopalians, Methodists, Baptist, Catholics, Greek Orthodox, and a Jewish Synagogue.
The primary ministry of ACTION is the Action Food Pantry. The food pantry was originally started by Lutheran Social Service (LSS) in 1967. When they lost their funding, Ursula Licon of Mt. Calvary-Faith Lutheran church served as director and incorporated the pantry as the United Community Food Pantry. She moved away and then Sid and Pat Corpe became the new directors in 1998. They served for five years. During their leadership, the ACTION Board of Directors reorganized the food pantry and incorporated it as ACTION Food Pantry. After Sid and Pat retired, Linda Larsen, a member of Prince of Peace Lutheran Church, took over. She served as director until late 2012. Under most of Linda’s directorship the food pantry was located in an industrial park in Baldwin Park. On Dec. 1, 2012, under the direction of Bernard (Bernie) Nord, the pantry moved to the campus of Grace Lutheran Church, 17880 E. Covina Blvd. Covina, Ca. 91722. As of April 2013, Cheryl Miller joined the pantry as the Co-Director.
Food is now distributed on Mondays from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Identification is required for new clients, including a photo I.D. and proof of address, such as a current utility bill. In 2019, the pantry is serving an average of 100 families a week, including single parents, the working poor, senior citizens, disabled, unemployed persons and the homeless. Action Food Pantry accepts clients from anywhere, and does not limit their length of time that a client may use it’s services. The ACTION clients can come in once a month as long as they have need. Seniors, because of their limited income and often heavy medical expenses, can come in twice a month. Disabled persons can also visit us twice per month. The homeless can come in once a week because they take so little due to their circumstances.
Each year the La Puente Post Office selects the ACTION Food Pantry to be recipients of their Annual Postal Food Drive. Usually, this adds up to tons of canned food and other non-perishables. Over 50 people from the ACTION congregations and community volunteers donate their time and pickup trucks to take the food from the post office to the pantry, where it was stored.
Ever since the mid 1990’s, members of the ACTION Board of Directors have organized among their congregations a food drive to collect special items to compile complete Thanksgiving baskets, which the food pantry gives out with a frozen turkey, many of which are donated by The Suburban Water Company three days before Thanksgiving. To ensure that all clients receive a complete Thanksgiving basket, additional turkeys are purchased by the food pantry and other donors.
Starting in 2013, the ACTION Food Pantry realized what a success the Thanksgiving baskets were and started organizing a dispersal of Easter and Christmas baskets also.