Campus, News

ASI’s Beach Pantry provides students with food in pop-up format

Associated Students, Inc.’s Beach Pantry held its weekly pop-up drive-thru event Friday afternoon for roughly 200 Long Beach State students.

As the official food pantry at CSULB, the Beach Pantry operates as a resource for students experiencing food insecurity.

At Friday’s event, ASI staff worked to safely accommodate students in their vehicles as well as walk-up attendees, providing both produce and non-perishable food items for those registered for the event.

“It’s really rewarding for me to be able to see this idea come into actuality and become an actual, thriving service that connects students in need with food,” said Jack Wilson, a Beach Pantry volunteer and teacher at the Isabel Patterson Child Development Center.

A CSULB graduate from 2016, Wilson sat on ASI’s Board of Trustees that helped initially approve the Beach Pantry being put in the University Student Union.

Prior to its location in the USU, the on-campus food pantry was located in the Soroptimist House and operated by Interfaith. According to Wilson, ASI worked with Interfaith to transition the pantry to the USU, and he, along with about five students on the board at that time, worked alongside students to bring the Beach Pantry into fruition.

“A big report was done at the time that had surveyed Cal State students, and it really addressed and brought attention to the issue of students who were food insecure or housing insecure,” Wilson said. “I think ASI and students realized that there was a need for this kind of service.”

As other campuses in the California State University system began implementing their own pantries, CSULB’s ASI worked with other student government branches to develop the Beach Pantry.

While the physical location is closed for the time being, the pantry remains up-and-running as a pop-up service each Friday to provide food for students in need.

In accordance with coronavirus regulations and health standards, the Beach Pantry team created a no-touch process in which staff members place the food items in students’ trunks while the students remain in the cars with the windows up.

According to Jordan Eres, ASI staff member, about 20 walk-up students visited the Beach Pantry’s pop-up event Friday, which he said was a “really nice turnout.”

To maintain distancing regulations and to avoid long lines, ASI had students stagger in at scheduled reservation times, and students were required to present their campus ID to verify their registration status.

James Ahumada, ASI senior communications manager, said he felt pleased with how the team has both created and executed this method.

“A lot of kudos goes to our staff for developing that kind of seamless process,” Ahumada said. “I really hope that the students are getting a great and simple experience [and for it] to not take up too much time of their day.”

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