It all started with one man’s passion for service.
Jack Jensen was a person who took action. Many of us think of doing it, but in the end follow-throughs never seem to materialize. Mr. Jensen was living proof of taking the next step.
Jack Jensen was born and raised in the Long Beach/Lakewood area. He was a pretty normal guy, but he had a goal to become a millionaire by the time he was 30. He went to college while working at Edison and got his CPA while also making many wise investments in local commercial real estate.
By the time he turned 30, Jack was certainly rich; however he was also an alcoholic and a drug addict. He woke up one morning and realized his life was not what he had imagined it to be. He was miserable, and went out on a search for answers.
He ended up at Christ Lutheran Church in Long Beach. He met with the pastor, and pleaded for help. The pastor gave him one piece of advice: “Get out of yourself and do for others.”
So that’s what Jack did. But he was an extremist — simple community service was not enough. Jack joined the United Nations USAID program, which brought him to refugee camps in Cambodia. There, he not only found himself but great joy in serving others.
When he returned to Long Beach, he tried to figure out what he could do to continue to give back. He began with trips to Mexico, bringing food and service to the needy there. However, when he saw the homeless population in his own neighborhood, he realized there was more he could be doing locally rather than abroad.
After asking around for ways to serve in his area, he found the federal food bank in Long Beach. Among many other things, he helped to organize their inventory — his name is still on the wall there today.
After serving at the food bank, Jack noticed something that disturbed him. If you are homeless, the cans of food handed out at the food bank don’t serve much purpose since you don’t have a kitchen to cook in.
One day, on one of his classic drives around Long Beach in his old Volkswagen van with his dog, Jack drove past the church at 515 E. Third Street and noticed a sign in the window: “Kitchen for Rent.”
So Jack took action. He rented the kitchen and began to bring in groups from local churches to cook meals for the needy in Long Beach. Now, over 35 years later, our kitchen is still open. In 2015, we served over 130,000 meals, and our numbers continue to grow as we meet the needs of our community.