In a stroke of symbiosis, a partnership between Long Beach Organic and Cal State Long Beach’s ASI Beach Pantry has been helping fight food insecurity since April by providing fresh, donated produce for students in need during the pandemic. With campus, as well as its usual walk-in style pantry closed—it normally offers produce, non-perishable food items, school supplies and more to students in need—a Friday drive-thru pop-up was introduced to continue providing the service, which is part of the university’s Basic Needs Program.
LBO is just one of the pantry’s community partners.
Grown from plots from LBO’s eight gardens throughout Long Beach—the nonprofit was founded in 1994, its mission to transform vacant lots into gardens—the produce is gathered and washed by volunteers on Thursdays, and delivered to the drive-thru on Fridays. In early August, LBO reached a milestone with one ton of produce donated to the pantry. From international students unable to work and residents in need of food for their families, about 200 students use the service every week, and having fresh vegetables be a part of that is a healthy plus.
But the collaboration yields much more than simply fulfilling a need. Its volunteers, interns, gardeners and board members take strength and solace in the process of growing the tomatoes, squash, potatoes, and more; for some it’s a form of therapy, and others an easy, and meditative, way to give back.
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