By Alfredo Santana
SOUTH GATE — The city of South Gate has agreed to a $200,000 contract with Northgate Gonzalez Markets to provide groceries for low-income residents, extending for the third time a food insecurity program conceived at the height of the COVID-19 infections.
The baskets worth $130 each will be delivered on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays to participating households by Fiesta Taxi drivers. The packages includes groceries including vegetables, breads, meat, poultry and dairy.
A report from the Community Development Department signed by director Meredith Elguira indicates there are 94 families currently enrolled in the Food Insecurity Assistance Program who met low moderate-income guidelines issued by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Eligible participants meet guidelines of having an income under $30,300 for a family of two, $34,100 for a household of three, and $37,850 for a family of four.
Councilman Al Rios praised the food program extension, expected to run from July 1 through June 30, 2024.
“I’m glad we are going to continue with Northgate and the food distribution,” Rios said. “That’s the correct way of going about it. I know a lot of families have benefited from this program, and we are going to continue to provide food for those needy families. I’m really glad that is happening.”
Mayor Maria del Pilar Avalos and Council members Gil Hurtado, Joshua Barron and Maria Davila also voted in favor of extending the program.
Funds for the program come from the American Rescue Plan Act, a law signed by President Biden in 2021 to help local governments mitigate the economic impact and recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.
South Gate received a total of $34.5 million from the Treasury Department.
The city launched the food insecurity program in March 2021, aiming to support families struggling to survive during add after the pandemic.
Since its inception, the program has used federal money allocations to combat hunger. The initial $375,000 were earmarked to provide the food and groceries aid from March through October 2021.
The council voted to allocate an additional $170,000 to keep the program alive through June 2022. A second extension was approved with $270,000 to continue running the program through June 30, 2023.
Usually the qualified residents get to pick grocery baskets from three “standard grocery list” of products prepared by the city and the store’s employees, including hygiene goods.
When ready, they are transmitted by the city to the retailer located at 4155 Tweedy Blvd.
The orders are placed electronically and ready for pickup and delivery usually 24 hours later by Fiesta Taxi, the city’s delivery contractor, according to the agreement with Carl Middleton, Northgate Gonzalez Market’s executive senior vice president of administration.
Northgate Markets had previously agreed to provide price updates for all items in the shopping lists.
In a letter addressed to the City Council, Middletown said the company’s accounting department will submit monthly invoices for the food baskets prepared and distributed within each period.
“We would like to continue our partnership with the city of South Gate,” Middletown said. “We are extremely thrilled to continue providing food insecurity assistance to residents.”
In a related matter, the City Council amended a contract with the nonprofit Conservation Corps of Long Beach to extend a job training program for youth through June 2024 for $246,950.
The initial allotment of $183,120 was earmarked “for the removal of discarded bulky items” during the fiscal year that ended on June 30.
Funds for the training plan were also approved from the American Rescue Plan allocations.
According to Dan Knapp, the nonprofit’s CEO and executive director, the program started in July 2022 with the goal to engage high school students “with various conservation work projects” that include training activities to gain marketable skills and help preserve the local environment.
Such activities include graffiti removal, habitat restoration, recycling, urban forestry, reduction of brush and invasive vegetation that create fire hazards, development of community gardens and construction.
“Working with the city of South Gate is a venture where both the community and the young people working on the project benefit,” Knapp said in a letter to Elguira.
The agreement established the city would provide the conservation corps with a list of places to clean, and places where to dispose trash, debris and bulky items.
The National Conference of State Legislatures posted on its website that American Rescue Plan funds should be committed by Dec. 31, 2024, and disbursed by Dec. 31, 2026.