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On a sunny Friday afternoon, the Los Angeles LGBT Center’s Associate Director of Facilities Angela Echeverria was busy coordinating routes with drivers who volunteered to deliver food to the homes of the center’s most vulnerable clients.
“Good luck, everyone, and thank you,” Echeverria told the drivers as they departed with bags of fresh produce and boxes of pantry items.
It’s a scenario that has taken place every week for the past year at Pride Hall, Pride Pantry’s headquarters located inside the center’s Anita May Rosenstein Campus.
In the early months of the pandemic, Pride Hall was transformed from an event space into a temporary warehouse where, at times, pallets of boxed and canned food nearly reached the top of the 45-foot-tall ceiling and fresh produce dominated several rows of tables.
Director of Culinary Training and Operations Nick Panepinto was among the center employees from across various departments to collaborate and launch Pride Pantry in May 2020.
“As we reflect back on a year of Pride Pantry, it’s really amazing that we continue to distribute about 695 bags and boxes of produce each week,” he said. “By the end of June 2021, we’re on track to distribute 24,120 boxes of food, including 44 tons of produce – that’s equal to the weight of 30 compact cars.”
Soon after Pride Pantry was launched at the campus, it was expanded to begin caring for the communities served by the center’s other facilities: Mi Centro in Boyle Heights and Center South in South L.A. near Leimert Park.
“It lets people know the center cares about them and is here to help,” Center South Program Supervisor Percival Pandy said. “When the pandemic began, Center South just opened. Pride Pantry has brought so many people from the community into the center who had never interacted with our organization – that’s how vital it’s been to building a place in the community.”
Launched last July, Center South’s Pride Pantry is offered every second and fourth Friday of the month and provides for more than 200 people each month.
“Pride Pantry has kept us engaged with the people of South L.A.,” Pandy added. “When people were under quarantine and social distancing orders, we were one of the organizations which kept our doors open in order to meet the needs of the people here.”
For information, visit lalgbtcenter.org.
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