Associated Students, Inc.’s Beach Pantry held another pop-up drive-thru event on Friday, Feb. 5, serving an estimated 200 Long Beach State students.
Iraida Venegas, assistant director of commercial services, said ASI is continuing its weekly food drive that has been running since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020. The two-hour event was held in the parking lot located next to Brotman Hall and the University Student Union.
“We initially had it as a walk-up style,” she said. “We used to let students come in with gloves and let them pick the items that they wanted, but in this case, we wanted to get no contact as much as possible.”
Venegas said that the drive-thru style “works really well,” as students can drive up and have their bags loaded into their trunks by staff members without risking close contact. ASI provides bags filled with various non-perishable goods such as beans and sliced peaches, along with bags for those who are vegetarian.
“We also have produce from the Long Beach community gardens that are dropped off and sorted into bags,” she said. “We also have these lunch bags that are provided by Bonnie Nash and her volunteers. These bags have water, snacks, oatmeals, and various items that are really helpful to students.”
Nash, Venegas said, is a community member who helps the university with the pantry.
Depending on the week, the number of participating students varies from as low as 120 to 236 students maximum, but Venegas said that the average number is around 200.
Students can sign up in 15-minute increments as a way to avoid long lines when arriving at the event. The increments also help avoid wait times for students, Venegas said.
“Every 15 minutes, we allow 25 cars to come by,” she said. “We do it more so that students do not have to wait in a long line or wrap around the sidewalks where communities will not see the students waiting to get food.”
Venegas said that the bags are often filled with content that is more than the usual amount a student would get in a regular scenario. Students were able to visit the pantry up to three times a week and grab up to 15 items total during that week prior to the pandemic.
“In this case, with the bags, there are more than 15 items in each bag,” she said. “That also includes the lunch bags and the produce bags, so it is supplementing more than what they would normally get from the pantry.”
Venegas said that ASI works with food finders who “collect all the items from the grocery stores and different markets,” while also working with local community members.
“We work with an individual named Mark, and he gets items from his church and local food banks that provide a lot of our canned goods,” she said. “We definitely appreciate the help we get from the local community during these times.”