Workers from Southern California Gas Co. volunteer with Little Tokyo Eats.

The Little Tokyo Service Center (LTSC) on Oct. 14 partnered with the Southern California Gas Co. (SoCalGas) to deliver meals as part of the Little Tokyo Eats program to seniors at the Little Tokyo Towers, a subsidized senior housing community for qualifying senior citizens.

Since the launch of the program in April, LTSC has partnered with Keiro, a mission-driven organization engaged in improving the quality of life for Japanese American seniors, to deliver meals three times a week to seniors in Little Tokyo and the immediate Downtown area. SoCalGas provided an additional $10,000 donation to the organization to assist their efforts in supporting local restaurants and seniors.

“The Little Tokyo Eats project confirmed my deeply held beliefs that we are a resilient community who care about each other,” said Mike Murase, one of the founders of LTSC. “Through all the challenges — the Great Depression, World War II evacuation and concentration camps, all the evictions and displacement caused by redevelopment, the changing demographics, urban blight and gentrification — Little Tokyo has been able to survive and thrive.

“COVID-19 presented an existential threat to two indispensable sectors of our community: the senior residents and the restaurants. Little Tokyo Eats has been able to provide hope to both.”

In an effort to support local businesses, all meals delivered through the Little Tokyo Eats program are purchased from surrounding restaurants such as Kouraku, Mitsuru Sushi and Grill, Far Bar and more. Keiro, a longtime partner of LTSC, is subsidizing these meals for seniors to lower their out-of-pocket costs to approximately only $3 per meal.

All meals are individually packaged and delivered to the residents through LTSC and SoCalGas volunteers while adhering to COVID safety guidelines. More than 60 volunteers have dedicated over 700 hours to this program since its launch and will continue to provide prepared meals during this time of need.

“I have been eating every single bento with my gratitude since the very first day the service was started,” said Hiroko Ito, a LTSC client. “My husband, myself, and many of my friends were so fortunate to be able to utilize this fantastic program. The delivery is always accurate and on time. You cannot beat the price. The menu is extensive, culturally appropriate, and clearly written. On the delivery dates, many of us excitedly wait as we hold our chopsticks.

“We are so worried that this program will end someday. I really hope it continues. I’d like to express my deepest appreciation from the bottom of my heart.”

“It’s incredible to see the community and the residents come together during times like this,” said Trisha Muse, director of community relations at SoCalGas. “All of us at SoCalGas are extremely thankful for this opportunity to provide support and give back to the communities we serve. I am joyful to see the community of Little Tokyo continuing to thrive during these tough times.”

Since March, SoCalGas has donated more than $2.74 million to nonprofit organizations for COVID-19 recovery efforts, including supporting the region’s workforce, feeding the hungry, providing bill assistance to customers, and more.

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