MEND at a Glance

MEND– Meet Each Need with Dignity, serves an average of 37,000 poverty–level clients each month, while remarkably keeping operating costs to less than 6%. It is the largest, most efficient and most comprehensive poverty-relief organization in the San Fernando Valley.  MEND takes a holistic approach to relieve the effects of poverty by providing basic human needs while giving their clients the tools, education, training, support and opportunities that foster self-reliance.

A volunteer-powered organization since its founding in a garage in 1971, MEND today benefits from the assistance of over 5000 volunteers (and only 34 paid staffers) to implement a broad array of programs, including:

  • A Foodbank
  • A Clothing Center
  • Medical, dental, and eye care
  • Job training
  • Classes for adults in English as a Second Language, literacy, computers, office skills, sewing and parenting
  • Math, reading and science tutoring for kids
  • Showers and other services for the homeless
  • A Home Garden Training program serving 163 families in 2014
  • An annual Holiday Basket Program for 1300 pre-screened families in need.

Although MEND is dedicated to relieving the effects of poverty, its underlying mission is to provide the means and the path to self-sufficiency: to “break the bonds of poverty.” MEND provides the basic human needs vital to day-to-day survival as well as  education, training, opportunities, and support essential to reducing and ultimately eliminating reliance on public and private assistance. Most importantly, MEND provides these services in a manner that maintains the dignity and self-esteem of recipients.

Unique Characteristics

  • MEND takes a holistic and humanitarian approach to relieving the effects of poverty with the underlying goal of lifting the needy out of poverty and into self-sufficiency.
  • All goods and services are free for clients who are all below the federal poverty guidelines (e.g., food, clothing, medical/dental treatment, lab tests, prescriptions). However, donations of $5 for clothing and $5 for health services are requested for those with the ability to pay.
  • MEND is volunteer-driven. Our medical, dental, public relations, fundraising, job training, and food pantry services are carried out by some 5000 professionals and community members who donate their time and skills.
  • MEND has extraordinarily low overhead and administration costs (below 6%).
  • Staff is increased only when programs grow too big for volunteers to adequately complete the workload.
  • MEND does not solicit public (government) grants and is almost entirely privately funded.


JOB TRAINING PROGRAM – MEND’s Job Training Program, (M)ENDing Poverty:1000 Clients Job Ready, is the latest addition to our services. The program provides trainees with the opportunity to work in MEND departments in a number of career areas such as food services, retail, customer service, computer skills development, warehouse management, medical and dental assisting and clerical/administrative services. Since 2013, nearly 2000 people participated in this program gaining skills that have helped them become “job ready.”

EMERGENCY FOOD BANK – Each month, the MEND Food Bank and the Emergency Food Assistance Program serve approximately 20,000 people both onsite at the MEND Center and offsite through 67 organizations and outreach programs. Boxes containing a nutritionally balanced three-day supply of food go to those most in need. MEND receives generous donations from area farms, manufacturers, distributors, individuals, schools, businesses and churches. These donations were valued at over $7.1 million in 2015. The Food Rescue Program is a vital part of the MEND Food Bank: daily stops are made to area markets to “rescue” food that is approaching its sell-by date. Another key facet of the Food Bank are two job-training programs, for food-service and warehouse workers.

CLOTHING CENTER – The Clothing Center is a crucial resource for families and individuals in need. At the center they receive necessary clothing, shoes, blankets and small household items. Baby items and children’s clothes are also available. Job trainees in the Clothing Center gain experience in inventory and display management. Annual events and programs at the Clothing Center include two baby showers for expecting and new moms; Project Job Ready to prepare clients for job interviews by providing résumé help, coaching and a professional outfit; Project Glamour  to provide teen girls with a dress, accessories, hairdo and make-up for the Prom; and the Women’s Conference to support women in the community with opportunities for networking, exchanging ideas, empowerment and growth.

HEALTH CENTER – Dental, medical and eye care is provided by volunteer health professionals through more than 11,000 encounters with clients each year. The Medical Clinic includes family practice, chiropractic, acupuncture, and specialty clinics for diabetes, hypertension, women’s health and healthy aging. The Eye Care Clinic offers vision screenings and eye glasses. The Dental Clinic provides general dentistry (exams and restorative services such as cleanings, fillings, extractions and sealants) as well as endodontics (root canals) and periodontics (prevention and treatment of gum disease). All clinics provide preventative health education, free prescriptions and, if necessary, referral arrangements for more specialized or surgical services. Training in dental assisting and medical office work is provided to those interested in pursuing careers in these fields.

EDUCATION & TRAINING CENTER – MEND offers year-round courses in English as a second language; literacy classes in both English and Spanish reading; math and science tutoring for kids; computer lab for teaching computer skills as well as general learning; and sewing classes for students to  cut, sew, work with patterns, and operate sewing machines.  Clients also get valuable training and skill development through “on-the-job” service in all the MEND Programs and general operations.

HOMELESS PROGRAM – Every Tuesday, hot lunches are provided to the homeless, as well as clothing and emergency food boxes with provisions to last 3 to 4 days. A shower program is available for those who otherwise don’t have access to bathing facilities. Nearly 300 homeless people use the shower program.

GENERAL SERVICES – Volunteers assist individuals in need with information and referrals, food stamp referral and documentation, bus tokens, low-income utilities; and tax filing. They also make as many as 1800 home visits annually to assess needs, make referrals and determine the eligibility for MEND services and programs.



THE CHRISTMAS PROGRAM – Hundreds of schools, churches, businesses, and community volunteers participate in MEND’s annual holiday program for up to 1400 needy families. Each family is home-visited to assess needs; the most needy are recommended for adoption by community groups who provide household items and extra gifts. The remaining families who meet federal poverty guidelines come to the MEND Center on assigned days in December to select a new gift or toy for their children and receive new blankets and generous boxes of food for Christmas dinner. 

HEAD TO TOES – Each year as they get ready to go back to school, 200 third graders get basic dental screenings, fluoride treatments, vision exams, a new pair of shoes, and backpacks filled with school supplies.

BABY SHOWERS – Twice yearly, approximately 80 new mothers come to a baby shower hosted by MEND that includes a luncheon, raffle, distribution of car seats, clothing and other infant care items. The mothers attend workshops on parenting and learn about other resource information for families with young children.

PROJECT GLAMOUR – Local teenage girls get a complete formal outfit for their prom or school dance. The girls receive an outfit, get their hair and make-up done, and attend a personal development workshop.

PROJECT JOB READY – Clients are given a complete outfit for a job interview along with a job search and interview workshop.