Laguna Beach chef gives back to Laguna Food Pantry volunteers

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Chef-proprietor Alessandro Pirozzi

Alessa’s recently donated 150 gift cards worth $15,000 to the Laguna Food Pantry to thank the nonprofit’s volunteers.

Typically, the Pantry celebrates its dedicated volunteers with an annual volunteer appreciation dinner. The pandemic prevented the event from moving forward this year.

Instead, Executive Director Anne Belyea reached out to Chef Alessandro Pirozzi to purchase $15 gift cards for her 120 volunteers. She initially thought Pirozzi’s donation of $100 gift cards was a mistake. It was not.

“[A] majority of us are lucky enough to never worry about food but also many people out there are counting on organizations like the Laguna Food Pantry to make sure that they have a meal for their family,” Pirozzi said in a prepared statement. “And for that, we always support the Laguna Food Pantry in any way we can.”

Like other Laguna Beach restaurants, Alessa’s recently restarted outdoor dining after state officials canceled a regional stay-at-home order on Jan. 25. Restauranteurs endured a dimmed holiday season—which is normally a prosperous time—after their operations were limited to providing take-out and delivery orders. This hardship made Priozzi’s donation even more surprising to Belyea.

“Not only is Chef Pirozzi an accomplished and talented chef, but a thoughtful and big-hearted community member,” Belyea said. “On behalf of the Laguna Food Pantry’s Board of Directors and volunteers, we send our heartfelt thank you to Chef Alessandro Pirozzi for his generosity and support!”

The Laguna Food Pantry is open Monday through Friday from 8 to 10:30 a.m. and operates with a safe drive-through distribution system. Anyone in need is welcome to pick up food once per week. To support the Pantry, visit lagunafoodpantry.org.

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