Coronada King Haywood: Dynamic Women in Action Reach Out
By Dianne Anderson
Not everyone has the stomach to dig deep in their pocket and pull out thousands of their own personal dollars to make sure the kids and seniors don’t go hungry.
But Coronada King Haywood answers to a higher calling.
She guesses it was the way she was brought up. Her dad was a Pentecostal minister, her mom a missionary.
Today, she averages about 430 feedings per day.
“We give chicken, sausage and fish. Last week we had eggs and I mean we had eggs. I have a couple of churches that I reach out to and share what we get from the food bank, and they partner with me,” said King Haywood, founder of the nonprofit Women in Action Reaching Out in Long Beach.
Her food program is partly sponsored by the Department of Education, which helps feed local at-risk children with any after school programs, including three YMCA programs where she provides after school snacks and supper. She said they also work with another Los Angeles housing complex in Harbor Hills, along with Success in Challenges at Northpointe Apartments.
Basically, her senior program proving daily lunch is out of pocket, but during the pandemic, almost everything came to a grinding halt. She felt a need to keep the program going, which meant paying her staff and helpers.
To keep the food on the shelves and going out to the community, she took out a Small Business Administration loan for $100,000.
“So I’m currently paying that back,” she said. “People were desperate, the seniors during that time were shut in and couldn’t get out. We were out for one week during the Long Beach riots, but we came back after that week.”
Partners usually donate materials or food, but not money. However, last year and this year, she said she was grateful for funding from 8th District Councilman Al Austin.
The nonprofit has been at the Long Beach Expo for ten years with the main facility at the Carmelitos community housing, where she’s been operating since starting in 2012 with a summer feeding program for the kids.
Before long, she ventured out with food distribution, receiving produce and vegetables from Food Finders, and later became a sponsor with the regional food bank with lunches and food distribution Monday through Thursday.
At this point, any catering jobs that they are able to land on the side, or any fundraising goes to take care of the seniors, who come daily to the Long Beach Expo location for free lunch, and if they ask for a carry out donation. If she has extra, she gives it away.
These days, she also hosts periodic events and activities to make up for the out of pocket shortfall, but at the rate she charges, that may take a while.
“Last year, we did a little fundraiser senior expo, we charged $10 per senior and they had plenty to eat, danced and had a good time. It’s something we want to continue annually,” she said.
So many people in the last few years, young and old, have suffered great losses in the community, but she still sees their will to continue to survive.
She said that she likes to feel that her organization is a support system for families in need in hard times.
“Some don’t have family members and every time they come to get the lunches I see the smile on their faces. We’ve also given out clothing with the tags still on it, we get it and give it out to the community,” she said.
Haywood, whose husband died in 2020, said that he was also very concerned about feeding the hungry, even though they were on a budget. That first summer she started with $5,000 of her own funds, which soon evaporated.
Back then, she worried she might have to end the program.
“He said whatever you need, take it,” she said.
Haywood is 77 years young. It makes her all the more keenly aware of what seniors are going through these days, often choosing between paying rent, medications or food.
It’s one of the reasons she got involved after the last big economic downturn in 2012.
“People are priced out,” she said. “They don’t think of those people that can’t afford the adjustments in their budgets. It’s really sad. They can’t cope with all that’s happening in society.”
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