PALM SPRINGS – An estimated 300 people will be served each time a free mobile food pantry rolls into the Desert Highland Gateway Estates neighborhood in Palm Springs, according to Mayor Pro Tem Geoff Kors.
The mobile food pantry makes its debut beginning Thursday, Aug. 22. The pantry will operate the second and fourth Thursday of each month from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at the James O. Jessie Desert Highland Unity Center, 480 Tramview Road.
It is a stopgap measure until the city can woo a grocery store to the city’s north side.
“Councilmember (Christy) Holstege and I are recommending approval of a contract to gather data to support a grocery store in the northern part of Palm Springs,” Kors told Uken Report. “We are also looking at what incentives we could provide to help get a grocery in that area.”
The neighborhood has long been in need of a grocery store, according to Communications Director Amy Blaisdell. Lack of convenient access and transportation for some residents exacerbates the issue as more readily available foods tend to be processed from fast-food restaurants, convenience and liquor stores. The nearest grocery store in the area is 2.6 miles away.
The new mobile food pantry, fully paid for by the city of Palm Springs, will feature fresh produce, protein, dairy and grain items. Each family will receive approximately 20-35 pounds of food free of charge.
FIND Food Bank will also provide community healthcare workers to assist residents with referrals to medical and mental health resources, government programs including CalFresh and MediCal, housing agencies, financial counseling and educational services.
The mobile food pantry portion cost the city $50,000, City Manager David H. Ready told Uken Report.
The city added the additional service of $13,000 for counseling assistance for a total of $63,000 for one year, Ready said. Money comes from the General Fund – from the portion the City Council allocates for “grants and sponsorships.
“FIND Food Bank, the desert’s regional food bank, distributes more than 10 million pounds of food assistance annually to an average of 85,000 individuals a month,” CEO Debbie Espinosa said in a prepared statement. “Partnering with the city of Palm Springs to bring our mobile food pantry to Desert Highland was a natural fit. We are excited to begin serving the neighborhood and educating residents about healthy food choices.”
The genesis of the idea to bring food assistance to Desert Highland took root at a standing City Council Business Retention Subcommittee meeting with local residents and the business community. The subcommittee meets every other month. Kors and Holstege are City Council representatives on the subcommittee.
“The Subcommittee is committed to ensuring that no area in our city is a food desert lacking access to fresh food and we will continue our work to bring a grocery store to the area,” Kors said.
- Geoff Kors: Geoff Kors
- David H. Ready: City of Palm Springs
- groceries: Shutterstock