Local food pantries and neighborhood groups have teamed up under the guidance of the Long Beach Center for Economic Inclusion (LBCEI) to form the Long Beach Food Support Network, with the goal of distributing free food to low income residents of Long Beach.
When creating the Long Beach Food Support Network, the LBCEI contacted nonprofits and churches that were already feeding those in low income communities in Long Beach. Some food pantries in the network have been active in the community for years, according to a press release by LBCEI.
After the coronavirus pandemic arrived in March 2020, many people faced economic insecurity and had difficulties affording groceries. Since April 2020, the food pantries and neighborhood groups currently involved in the Long Beach Food Support Network have been providing food to a total of over 1,500 households weekly.
“We are grateful to our food partners who have joined together to help provide for those most in need in our underserved communities of North, Central and West Long Beach,” LBCEI Board Chair Bob Cabeza said.
Nine food pantries and two neighborhood associations have joined the Long Beach Food Support Network. The LBCEI worked with food pantries to plan a staggered schedule and distributed multi-lingual fliers throughout low income communities in the city to inform residents about when and where they can pick up free food throughout the week.
The two participating neighborhood groups, AOC7 and Collins Neighborhood, also hold single-day food distribution events.
To help provide groups involved in the network with food to distribute, the LBCEI has partnered with the Long Beach based food recovery nonprofit Food Finders and the L.A. Regional Food Bank.
In order to store the increased supply of food before it is distributed through the nonprofits and neighborhood groups, Vice Mayor Rex Richardson created the LBCEI Food Hub at his field office in North Long Beach. A grant from the Long Beach Community Foundation paid for freezers and refrigerators so the food pantries could hold more groceries.
The Food Hub now receives and distributes 15,000 pounds of food in boxes every two weeks. Recently, LBCEI bought 20,000 pounds of frozen chicken, which will be distributed weekly to Long Beach Food Support Network partners.
“LBCEI’s Food Hub has allowed us to be more intentional and increase the efficiency of available food resources,” Julie Lie, LBCEI Food Network Manager, said. “This centralized approach has really improved the operations of the food pantries to better meet the needs in their communities.”
The City of Long Beach has also granted LBCEI several CARES Act grants, with a recent grant being used to buy fresh produce, animal protein and dairy products.
Food pantries and neighborhood groups involved in the Long Beach Food Support Network are also used to disseminate other important resources, including 250 free laptops and wifi hotspots as part of the City of Long Beach’s Digital Inclusion efforts, financial literacy information and COVID safety information. The network is also assisting in COVID vaccine roll out efforts.
LBCEI also partnered with Leadership Long Beach during the MLK Day of Service in January to collect hygiene kits and non food items needed by community members assisted by the food pantries. After an online campaign, the project collected 300 care packages, 500 pounds of food and paper products and more than $1,500 for the Long Beach Food Support Network.
Due to the success of this fundraising project, LBCEI is now accepting donations weekly on Mondays.
More information, a list of items that are needed for donation, drop off times and locations of Long Beach Food Support Network partners can be found on LBCEI’s website.
Besides funding from the City, LBCEI receives financial support from the Long Beach Community Foundation, HOPE Foundation, United Way, Supervisor Janice Hahn and more.