Student LunchBox Celebrates a Milestone of Great Partnerships
LOS ANGELES, CA November 1, 2021: — Student LunchBox is excited about its recent partnerships in Los Angeles County to rescue and distribute food to college students facing food insecurities. SLB’s new partnerships are equally inspiring as they are unique.
Earlier this summer, SLB partnered with a local business owner to solicit donations by placing a drop-off donation bin at the front entrance of his neighborhood grocery store. Store patrons donate canned foods, lightly used clothes, school supplies, hygiene products, and similar items. Once the bin is filled, SLB volunteers pick up the donated items for distribution to college students. “The donations are incredible. We are very grateful to the store owner who agreed to have the drop-off bin at his store,” said Karlen Nurijanyan, President and Founder of Student LunchBox. “We hope to build more partnerships like these.”
The search for partnerships to rescue and distribute foods to college students began bearing fruit. “We had a long summer with no leads of any kind. As an emerging non-profit, no one knows us, so we have been working hard to spread awareness of our organization and its mission,” stated Mr. Nurijanyan. Then, in September 2021, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity knocked on Student LunchBox’s door when SLB was invited to be a primary recipient at a weekly gleaning program at a local farmers’ market. SLB volunteers rescue fresh fruits, vegetables, bread, pastries, and other produce through this program, averaging 60 boxes or over 1000 pounds of food to be distributed to partner colleges weekly.
Within a day of learning about this opportunity, SLB contacted numerous organizations to distribute the foods to and successfully established relations with the Associated Students, Inc. (ASI) Beach Pantry at California State University, Long Beach (CSULB), The Women’s Research and Resource Center (WRRC) at California State University Northridge (CSUN). “The first week was extremely challenging, as we received the gleaning opportunity on short notice and immediately began reaching out to college pantries to coordinate the distribution, but we did it,” added Mr. Nurijanyan.
The ASI Beach Pantry at CSULB was very excited to incorporate fresh produce into their food pantry and has managed to open their doors on Sundays to receive the goods rescued from the farmers market. “The leaders of these organizations went above and beyond, coordinating between each other to welcome us to the campus and keep the produce fresh in refrigeration so students may pick up the following days,” Mr. Nurijanyan explained.
After a few deliveries to colleges accepting SLB’s distributions, promising relations and new partnerships were established. Shortly after, students began noticing the ongoing, coordinated distribution of fresh produce and now look forward to it. “We had great success. Our partners sent us phenomenal pictures showing the food distribution following our delivery. They even sent us pictures of meals the students prepared with the food we delivered to the pantries,” comments Marco Gonzalez, Treasurer, and Co-Founder of Student LunchBox. It was an emotional experience when Iraida Venegas, University Student Union Assistant Director, Services, and Christina Limon, ASI Beach Pantry Coordinator at CSULB shared with SLB pictures with the students’ shout-outs to SLB and ASI Beach Pantry.
Shira Brown, the director at WRRC at CSUN created a small farmer’s market outside of the center where she served all her students with the foods SLB delivered. “The work she has put into our shared efforts is simply incredible. You have to see the pictures of the small farmers’ market-style event she put together. It is such a rewarding feeling when you see how the work SLB does truly pays off!” adds Mr. Gonzalez.
“Our newly established partnerships mark the beginning of our work. We are optimistic about the future ahead of us. I envision SLB as an organization with multiple cargo vans reaching across Los Angeles County and beyond, replenishing college food pantry shelves daily, and rooting out the issue of food insecurity among college students once and for all,” Mr. Nurijanyan concludes.
For more information about Student LunchBox, including how to make a donation or in-kind contribution, please visit www.studentlunchbox.org