Note: Natalie Lahney, graduating CSULB senior, has been the Spring 2021 LBCEI communications intern. As part of her internship, Natalie spent several shifts volunteering in-person at the LBCEI Food Support Network’s Food Hub. The following is a brief blog post Natalie wrote about her experience.
Working at the food hub has been a great experience. Before I began working in-person, I could visualize the work being done at the food hub through being sent photos and hearing about what was being accomplished, but none of that compares to being able to witness firsthand the service being done.
Whether dropping off produce at the locations themselves or helping load cars at the hub, meeting members of different organizations we serve has been great to see just how many people we are impacting through our programs. The days I have spent working at the food hub have been unique and special each in its own way. Each Wednesday has held a different experience; hearing about what new and exciting events and programs are taking place in our community, and meeting new people from surrounding neighborhoods or differing organizations. Before arriving each time I was always excited to think of what the day would entail; what produce we would be receiving, if any volunteers would be arriving to help with other projects, and if I would be seeing any familiar faces. Similar to my own experience through my internship, I have also been able to connect the work I see being done by other organizations on social media platforms, to what is being done in person too.
In the span of just a few hours, our food hub is able to distribute fresh produce to hundreds of households around Long Beach, which has been amazing to not only see take place, but also be proud enough to say that I took part in helping distribute the food too. Our Food Support Network lives up to its name in the way that LBCEI didn’t start anything new, but rather is connecting resources to already existing food pantries. The Food Support Network is able to empower these participating churches, nonprofits, and neighborhood organizations by distributing other needed materials and information such as COVID-19 education kits, enabling them to provide people with products they might not have had easy access to during the past year.
I made sure to always recognize that our service to the community is done out of an emergency response to the pandemic to meet the needs of those facing food insecurity. This experience has allowed me to learn so much more about different neighborhoods and communities all around Long Beach, but the work to combat food insecurity is still not over. I am so grateful to have been granted the opportunity to contribute to the grand effort of addressing this issue.