Just a few blocks away from Soylent HQ is Skid Row — an area synonymous to many with homelessness. Oftentimes, that’s all we hear about this complicated place. But within the boundaries of this notorious neighborhood is a community of people seeking help, looking for friends, and trying their best to survive and thrive.

Last weekend, Soylent sponsored and volunteered at the Skid Row Carnival of Love, an event put on by The Wayfarer Foundation, which aims to uplift and enhance the lives of people experiencing homelessness.

The residents.

Skid Row is about 50 square blocks (0.4 miles) located just east of Downtown Los Angeles. It’s a neighborhood that individuals and families experiencing extreme poverty, addiction, and health issues have come to call home. It’s home to many who have fallen on tough times or are looking for community. Folks who come here know they won’t be judged by their neighbors for the cards they’ve been dealt.

Skid Row Resident - Photo by Conner Coughenour

The population is estimated to be from 8,000 to 10,000. While the population of Skid Row changes, there are about 6,000 permanent residents in hotels, about 2,500 homeless individuals, and as many as 2,500 people using shelters or transitional housing. It’s estimated that about 20% are veterans and the number of women and children living there is on the rise.

Unfortunately, many of the residents grapple with addiction and mental health issues. These issues end up further stigmatizing this population, and instead of seeking help they often get caught in a vicious back and forth of self-medicating and self-harm.

The Carnival of Love.

The Skid Row Carnival of Love is just that — a carnival. There were clowns, DJs, balloons, and face painting! In addition to games and food, there were also tents and booths where residents could meet with doctors and veterinarians, get hair cuts, do yoga, write resumes, receive job counseling, and win giveaways. The experience was like a concentrated, fun version of a social services agency.

Carnival of Love - Photo by Conner Coughenour

We played games, danced, and listened to Skid Row residents. Many of the people living there aren’t older than many of us working here at Soylent. They’re trying hard to better themselves, their health, their futures, and their families. You might be surprised by how many people work full-time jobs, but still don’t make enough to get by.

Events like Carnival of Love give hope to residents and show folks in these desperate situations that people truly do care. It’s critical that we support the programs and organizations working with the residents of Skid Row every single day because they help open doors that aren’t otherwise available to this community.

Helping the community.

In additional to the Carnival of Love, Soylent has also been lucky enough to be involved with The Midnight Mission. This incredible organization provides hot meals every day of the year, as well as housing, job training, health care, and community. Soylent not only offers financial support to The Midnight Mission, we volunteer at their Kitchen every month!

Because we’re a mission-based company, dedicated to tackling hunger and food insecurity, we’re excited to continue working with organizations like The Midnight Mission, Carnival of Love, and The Wayfarer Foundation, who support our neighbors in need.

Soylent Crew at The Carnival of Love

Homelessness, addiction, mental health, and poverty are complex issues that we don’t claim to know how to solve. What we do know is that volunteering, supporting, and caring can make a big difference in somebody’s life. So, if you find yourself in Downtown Los Angeles, we encourage you to find an organization that serves Skid Row and volunteer and/or donate. Together we can make a difference!

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