LBCEI opens doors to community donations to help fill the gaps for food pantries

10,000 pounds of food stacked in pallets sits in Rex Richardson’s field office waiting to be distributed to food pantries around the greater Long Beach area. The Long Beach Center for Economic Inclusion has been actively working to help underserved communities in the greater Long Beach area affected by food insecurity through their Long Beach Food Support Network. With help from 9 food pantry partners, Food Finders, the LA Regional Food Bank, Food Forward, and several community groups, the Food Support Network has been serving 1,500 households weekly.

In January, LBCEI partnered with Leadership Long Beach for the MLK Day of Service with a virtual project to collect care packages of hygiene kits and non-food items that were needed by guests of the food pantries. More than 300 care packages, 500 lbs. of food and paper products and over $1,500 were raised for the Long Beach Food Support Network. “After that event,” says LBCEI Food Manager Julie Lie, “we realized that people really want to help out and just don’t know how. So now we are here every Monday taking donations of the things our partner food pantries say they need the most.” While communities mobilized to help people get food, those same people — many of whom have been financially devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic — may not have funds to purchase basic household items like toothpaste, shampoo and facial tissues.

A current focus of the Food Support Network has been giving Long Beach’s food pantries COVID-19 education kits, which includes educational flyers, face masks and hand sanitizers. With the donations of full-sized shampoo, toothpaste, toothbrushes, soap, and paper products from members of our communities, Food Network pantry guests will be able to obtain products they haven’t had easy access to for almost a year. “We are so grateful to have received basic hygiene products and paper goods from LBCEI to give to our pantry guests” says Pools of Hope executive food pantry director Pat Dixon, “we saw that having these products lifted their self-esteem.”

Part of the 10,000 pounds of fresh produce at the Food Hub received by Food Forward

Donations are accepted every Monday from 10 am to 2 pm at Vice Mayor Richardson’s field office at 6509 Gundry Ave, Long Beach CA 90805. Monetary contributions are also accepted, and all donated funds will be used to purchase fresh produce, dairy, and animal protein food items to supplement the bulk food donated to the pantries.

The Food Support Network is also looking for volunteers to help sort, organize, and deliver items the network is putting together. You can also help support food pantry partners directly by contacting them. Information on most-needed supplies, volunteering opportunities, a chance to donate online, and more can be found at lbcei.org/give. If you are part of a community group or organization that would like to organize a hygiene kit donation drive, please email [email protected] to schedule.

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