City’s Health Department Looks to Expand Nutrition Assistance

Long Beach’s Health Department launched two Requests for Proposals (RFPs) to provide support to community-based organizations combating immediate food concerns in communities impacted by COVID-19.

The bidding began on April 12 and will run until May 13, 2022. Eligible organizations may submit proposals through the city’s Vendor Portal, Planet Bids.

The first RFP is for non-profits or local organizations to establish community food access projects. Resources would include community food pantries, food waste, or food recovery programs that help link recovered food to a community service organization or housing facility. 

In order to be able to qualify for support, projects must be providing households with free nutrition education and connecting them with ongoing federal nutrition assistance programs. 

The second opportunity will help organizations fund food distribution events that are not part of a comprehensive nutrition security or nutrition education program, such as distributions at private business parking lots, community organization sites, parks, or similar locations.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has fueled a global food crisis, the impacts of which have been felt most by our most vulnerable populations,” said Amanda Recio, Public Affairs Specialist for the Long Beach Department of Health and Human Services.

The demand for food assistance among lower income families in Long Beach rose due to loss of work or stagnant wages from business closures and unemployment.

Necessary public health strategies to control the spread of the virus and concurrent economic impacts of COVID-19, combined with limitations on access to healthy and affordable food had increased poor dietary quality and inadequate nutrition placing residents at a greater risk for food insecurity. 

Additional challenges related to food access included limited availability of healthy food markets, which added to the increase in food insecurity and elevated the risk for poor health outcomes as a result of unhealthy diets.

“Council approved the strategy that directed staff to develop these RFP opportunities in order to help us identify partners to expand existing programs and to create a more sustainable long-term infrastructure,” Recio said.

These programs were made possible by the Long Beach Recovery Act, which the city council approved in March of 2021. It also embeds an equity lens that can help identify the specific needs of a community. 

This includes funding for specific programs, outreach, language access, and digital access to ensure that the Recovery Act will assist all of those in need throughout Long Beach. 

The goals of the LBRA are to provide funding to support economic recovery, healthy and safe communities, and to secure the city’s future.

By Carter Williams II

Photo by City of Long Beach