Food Finders: Making a difference in our own backyard

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food finders long recently spoke with Patti Larson, Marketing/PR Consultant of Food Finders, Inc., via email. They talked about the inspirations and challenges of running a nonprofit organization in Long Beach.

How long has Food Finders, Inc. been around? Did it start in Long Beach?

Started 21 years ago in Seal Beach, by Arlene Mercer. It’s a multiregional food bank that serves L.A. and Orange counties, many agencies and shelters which are in Long Beach.

Describe Food Finders. What is your mission, who do you serve?

It’s a multiregional food bank that serves L.A. and Orange counties, many agencies and shelters which are in Long Beach. Our mission is to reduce hunger and food insecurity by delivering fresh, wholesome food to the needy and to serve as a resource to those in need by directing them to shelters and agencies that provide food and more.

How is Food Finders, Inc. different from similar nonprofits?

We are non-traditional as far as foodbanks, we don’t warehouse food but deliver same day from our pick up locations. As a nonprofit that has been well-established, we have a huge network of volunteers that keeps our organization running smoothly, headed by a small staff.

How is Food Finders involved with the community?

We provide food and goods to shelters and agencies throughout the community. We also have a store that offers furniture and home goods, collectibles, so that locals may come and find great deals on items for furnishing their home.

What are some of the biggest successes Food Finders, Inc. has had?

We’ve collected 78 million pounds of food in the last 20 years—that’s pretty incredible. It has increased steadily each year, and we are always adding new donors to the list, keeping food from becoming waste and feeding people instead.

What is the most rewarding part of running Food Finders?

Knowing that there are hundreds, perhaps thousands of people who many have gone without a meal had it not been for our efforts. Satisfied, well-feed people means better functioning people for our communities, and hopefully they will turn around and help others one day.

What are the challenges you face — as a nonprofit, as an advocacy group, or in your industry?

Challenges are always related to funds. We are experiencing less support in the last few years due to economic depression, and major international catastrophies such as Haiti’s earthquake, often affect how well we do here in our own community. People can only give so much!

What are the future plans for Food Finders?

We hope to expand our donor list as well as provide more food more often to the agencies we already serve. We are working towards expanding awareness, not only about Food Finders, but the imminent need for food right here in our own backyard! People sometimes ignore what is right in front of them and we want the issue of hunger to be addressed as effectively and immediately as possible.

Do you have any special events or fundraisers you’d like to tell us about?

Every October we host our Autumn Harvest Ball, and this year it will be on October 2. It’s a fun evening, complete with a gourmet dinner, wine, entertainment, silent and live auctions and a great way to show support for those in need.

How can people get involved with Food Finders, Inc.?

We always need donations, whether it be food or monetary support. Best way to help, and it’s so easy, is to host a food drive, collect from your office, school, neighborhood or club. We can always use volunteers at special events and on an ongoing basis, to help pick up and deliver food. If just a few people gathered even $5 or a few canned goods, then asked a few friends to do the same, it really starts to make a difference.

One Last Thing from Food Finders: Tell everyone you know, through the end of April, everything that gets donated to Food Finders is being matched by the Feinstein Foundation as part of their hunger relief efforts through the Feinstein Challenge. Please, just $5 or a few canned goods can make a difference, either dropped off or mailed or see our web site (address below).

Contact Food Finders, Inc:

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