Roosevelt Elementary School community members were treated to a special visit during Friday morning’s school assembly.
More than a dozen men, mostly from the Long Beach community, presented themselves in front of the school as the financial donors of Food For Long Beach Kids—an on-campus program created to address child hunger on weekends, when free and reduced-cost breakfasts and lunches are not available to students.
“We were hearing from schools, from teachers and principals that kids were showing up starving and hungry,” said Tim McBride, a founding member of Team 100—an organization created in 2012 to fund Food For Long Beach Kids. “We thought in a city with so many haves and have-nots, there are plenty of us that have that care about our community and we wanted to get together and do something."
So McBride and a few others quickly gathered 100 like-minded men to create Team 100.
The rules were simple: a $150 donation each year and bringing a certain number of people to the Blue Martini Ball—the nonprofit’s annual fundraiser for the food program.
Before the assembly, the men helped carry 20 bags filled with non-perishable food items from a delivery truck to the campus.
Each bag, which includes canned meals and cereal, allows a family of five to eat two breakfasts, two lunches and three dinners.
“A lot of these kids get breakfast and lunch at school, but on the weekend they might have a harder time trying to attain those items,” said Chris Wong, the food donor coordinator for Food Finders, which has overseen the delivery of food bags for three of seven elementary schools the program assists since January. “This way, if not completely filling up their whole meal for the weekend, that at least offsets some of the issues they may have.".
Program organizers said three more schools will be added to the list in the fall of 2015, with Food Finders scheduled to take over the delivery of food for all 10 sites.
The group’s efforts are appreciated, said parent Rosa Maria Virrueta, a parent of a fourth-grade student who volunteers regularly at school.
“I go through financial hardships, so it has helped me so much,” Virrueta said.
Families are chosen based on recommendations by principals, counselors or teachers, said Wong. Or sometimes, parents reach out for help.
What began as just a need to address hunger has also created a sense of community engagement, said McBride.
“Grades are going up, parent participation in classrooms is going up and graffiti is going down, because all of a sudden the community is being built and they are taking care of each other,” McBride added.
This year’s annual ball is scheduled to take place Saturday, May 30 at the Long Beach Yacht Club, and will feature live bands, a casino, cigar lounge and cabanas.
McBride said he expects the fundraiser to raise at least $125,000 for the program.
Photos by Stephanie Rivera.