Food bank offers free groceries to actors and writers on strike

Bins of bread and produce at World Harvest.
Food on offer at World Harvest in Arlington Heights.
(Glen Curado)
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At an Arlington Heights food bank, striking Hollywood writers and actors can take home hundreds of dollars worth of groceries for free.

WGA and SAG-AFTRA members who show their membership card at World Harvest Food Bank get the all-clear to fill a grocery cart with anything on the shelves, said owner Glen Curado, who described the food bank as an “all you can eat” kind of place.

Curado began offering union members free groceries on Saturday, the day after SAG-AFTRA formally joined WGA on picket lines in the first double strike to hit Hollywood in 63 years. Writers have been on strike since May, and the pressure is on — not just for the tens of thousands who are striking and out of work, but also for those who work on sets and the businesses that rely on industry spending.


As SAG-AFTRA members join writers on picket lines, the fallout will disrupt Hollywood film and TV productions worldwide. ‘There’s going to be blood in the water,’ said one analyst. ‘This will not end well.’

July 16, 2023

After speaking with SAG-AFTRA member Kristina Wong, the bank’s unofficial “food bank influencer,” Curado said he made the choice to welcome actors and writers. The strike has been “going on forever,” he said, explaining why he wanted to provide support. “Why is it taking so long?”

Typically, shoppers can leave with a shopping cart full of produce, bread and meat for either a $55 donation or for four hours of volunteering. Anyone who needs food but isn’t able to donate their time gets a free grocery bag full of food.

As of now, WGA and SAG-AFTRA members will be able to come in as many times as they need while supplies last, although Curado admits he doesn’t know how long that will be. For now, he is happy to give while he can — and he asks those interested to donate on the World Harvest website.

SAG-AFTRA has approved a deal from the studios to end its historic strike. The actors were on strike for more than 100 days.

Nov. 10, 2023

“We’re all a little worried what we got ourselves into,” said Wong, who promoted the offer from “Uncle Glen” on Instagram. “But I also admire that he’s like, ‘We’re gonna do it.’ I’m like, ‘Are you sure we’re not gonna run out of food?’ He’s like ‘We’re not gonna run out of food.’”

Wong said she had already received pushback from people upset that free groceries were being offered to Hollywood workers instead of others perceived as more in need.

“There’s a mythical person in people’s heads that they imagine when they go to a food bank. They just imagine the most dire of dire. And while that exists, those are not the only people who deal with food insecurity,” Wong said. “Who is to say that actors are not also single parents, are also people being evicted, are also people living out of their cars?”


Before joining SAG-AFTRA, Wong said that while working as a background actress in her 20s she couldn’t afford to keep her fridge stocked. She recalled being yelled at for taking extra food from sets. For the 160,000 members represented by SAG-AFTRA, sets have been replaced with picket lines.

At Hollywood bar Three Clubs, WGA members will receive half off their tab for the duration of the strike, among other deals popping up in support.

May 5, 2023

World Harvest Food Bank isn’t the only place feeding union members in a show of solidarity. A growing list of restaurants and bars offering discounts to WGA members can be found in a spreadsheet and on Twitter, updated by screenwriter Deanna Shumaker.

Green Envelope Grocery Aid, a mutual aid fund run by WGA member Joelle Garfinkel, provides $100 in grocery assistance for union and non-union Hollywood workers affected by the strike. As of July 16, 555 people had received assistance from the fund, according to Garfinkel.

Several funds are also available for those affected by the double strike, including the SAG-AFTRA Foundation’s Emergency Financial Assistance funds and strike funds for both the East and West branches of the WGA.

The 2023 writers’ strike is over after the Writers Guild of America and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers reached a deal.

Oct. 19, 2023

In May, WGA raised solidarity assistance funds for people working across the entertainment industry — not just in Hollywood — regardless of union affiliation.

“Withholding our labor has proven to be the only way we can force the studios to give us a deal that allows writers to earn a fair, sustainable living at our craft,” said Chris Keyser, co-chair of the WGA negotiating committee, in a statement. “That said, the WGA is not insensitive to the toll that this work stoppage will take on the entire industry.”