Matthew Barnett has been on the front lines with his team, helping send out north of 14,000 meals every single day as the coronavirus pandemic continues.
In an interview with Faithwire, the Los Angeles Dream Center co-founder said he has been overwhelmed by the support he’s received from people like Kanye West and Bella Hadid — celebrities he never imagined would cross his path.
As of Tuesday morning, Barnett said the Dream Center has served more than 350,000 meals since beginning its effort in mid-March. The organization’s highest-profile partnership so far has involved West and Chick-fil-A, which has been donating 5,000 chicken sandwiches each week.
“Consistency has been the greatest witness, I believe, during this time,” Barnett said of his motivation to continue serving Los Angeles during the pandemic.
The Dream Center is open seven days a week, from 7:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., serving food to kids who, before the pandemic, were getting their meals from school. And thanks to West’s generous donation, the faith-based charity is now able to deliver meals to at-risk seniors isolated at home.
Outside its Echo Park location, the Dream Center, founded in 1994, is delivering food to 20 communities in Watts and Skid Row, too.
Barnett described the space between a need arising and being met as a “miracle margin,” explaining that — in most cases — as soon as a donation is received, it’s put into the distribution line.
“Every Sunday night now, I stand on top of the food line, there’s a little porch that’s there, and stand above it, and for one hour, I tell everybody that goes through the line that I’m praying for every car,” he said.
Since beginning this service nearly 40 days ago, Barnett said he’s seen people from so many different walks of life pass through the distribution line.
Barnett said he sees two “viruses” on a daily basis.
“There’s two viruses going on,” he explained, “The virus, of course, that’s filling up the hospitals. But there’s also the horrible virus of loneliness, despair, isolation. That is a very real thing, and you see that when you see thousands of people come through.”
Initially, Barnett and his team planned to continue this service until May 1, but now he’s not even looking at an end date. Instead, he said, “we’re gonna be doing this for a long time.”
“We’re not even talking about deadlines anymore,” Barnett said. “We’re just gonna keep showing up and standing up.”
To learn more about the Dream Center or to make a donation, click here.