A refurbished shipping container to refrigerate foods in North Long Beach. Photo courtesy Food Finders.

A refurbished shipping container with built-in refrigeration will house a food hub in North Long Beach later this month to help families in need of food.

Food Finders, an organization dedicated to gathering and donating food across cities in Southern California, partnered with the Crossroads Long Beach church at Cherry Avenue to host the upcoming food hub.

Diana Lara, Food Finders executive director, is hoping the container will be ready for use sometime in the second week of April. Crews are currently installing electrical ports to power the container’s refrigerators.

Lara said the refrigerators will allow perishable foods, such as meat and dairy products, to be located within communities that struggle to afford healthy foods—something that wasn’t available before.

“The groups that we work with said there was a lack of refrigeration. We said, ‘OK, well we can put this, and it has refrigeration, and it’s close to them,'” Lara said.

North Long Beach, as well as West and Central Long Beach, is considered a food desert by the city.  Food deserts are areas with low-income communities and limited sources of fresh food. An announcement from national grocery chain Kroger to close a Food 4 Less in North Long Beach in February was met with pushback from local residents and workers who said the closure further reduced the amount of places people can find fresh food. The COVID-19 pandemic has also exacerbated the need for families to find affordable, healthy foods.

Lara said organizers are planning to host events around the shipping container twice a month to offer crop swaps and cooking demonstrations. The site will also have raised garden beds installed so that residents can learn how to grow their own food.

Food Finders workers are in charge of restocking the container on a weekly basis, Lara said.

North Long Beach isn’t alone in this program. Lara said they are planning to place a second food hub in West Long Beach as well. They are currently in talks with city officials to find an ideal spot for the food hub.

Food Finders is accepting food donations. People interested in donating food may contact Chris Wong at 562-283-1400 Ext. 105 or email [email protected] for more information.