November 24, 2021

APLA Health Celebrates 35 Years of the Vance North Necessities of Life Program and Passes 17 Million Meals Distributed to Low-Income Clients Living with HIV/AIDS

Media Contact:
Joe Hui
Director of Communications


The country’s largest food pantry network for people living with HIV/AIDS commemorates an important milestone.

November 2021 marks the 35th anniversary of one of APLA Health’s most critically needed services: our Vance North Necessities of Life Program (NOLP) food pantries. NOLP began as a $35-a-week food voucher program run by Ken and Alfia Hollywood out of their movie memorabilia store. In 1986, APLA Health worked with the Hollywoods to open the first Necessities of Life Program food pantry.

In 2011, philanthropist Bob North and his wife, Lois, donated $3.5 million to the program in memory of their son, APLA Health client and supporter Vance North, who died of AIDS-related complications in 1995.

Today, NOLP is the country’s largest food pantry network for people living with HIV/AIDS with ten locations throughout Los Angeles County—from Long Beach to Lancaster—and has distributed over 17 million free meals to people who live at or below the poverty line.

In 2020, The Los Angeles County Division of HIV & STD Programs provided funding for the expansion of the program to provide 100 percent of a person’s recommended daily allowance (RDA) for low-income people living with HIV/AIDS in Los Angeles County and increase capacity so that more people can join the program.

Each week, NOLP clients receive fresh dairy, frozen meats, fresh produce, and an assortment of canned and dry goods that provide 21 meals a week plus snacks, as well as hygiene items and cleaning supplies. NOLP clients also receive bilingual, one-on-one nutritional counseling and nutrition classes.

“We are 40 years into the AIDS epidemic and have been running NOLP for 35 years, and though we’ve made amazing strides in that time, there remains a critical need for our food pantries,” said Craig E. Thompson, CEO of APLA Health. “In these times of significant inflation, providing the equivalent of three meals a day, seven days a week, we are able to help clients stabilize their living expenses and reduce overall food insecurity.”

More information about APLA Health’s NOLP program can be found here:

NOLP Client, Mark Gordon, talks about his personal experience with the NOLP program:


APLA Health restores dignity and trust within underserved communities by providing world-class LGBTQ+ empowering healthcare, support services, and HIV specialty care. Since 1983, APLA Health has remained steadfast in its commitment to ending the HIV/AIDS epidemic in our lifetime. The agency is a multi-site operation includes eight Federally Qualified health Center (FQHC) locations, serving more than 18,000 people annually in Los Angeles County, the nation’s most populous. We provide 20 different services including: medical, dental, behavioral health and HIV specialty care; PrEP counseling and management; health education and HIV prevention; and STD screening and treatment. For people living with HIV, we offer housing support; benefits counseling; home healthcare; and the Vance North Necessities of Life Program food pantries; among several other critically needed services. Additionally, we are leaders in advocating for policy and legislation that positively impact the LGBTQ+ and HIV communities and conduct community-based research on issues affecting the communities we serve. For more information on APLA Health visit

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