Just over 29,000 pounds of food donated from Santa Monica city employees and the public was collected during the Big Blue Bus’ 15th annual food drive, the transit agency announced.

The food will be distributed to families in need throughout Santa Monica and the Westside, according to Big Blue Bus, which spearheaded the food drive competition between city departments. The drive was held from Nov. 26 through Jan. 10.

For the first time this year, the public was able to donate food at special bins placed around town, or via cash contributions through a special online donation center set up by the American Red Cross in Santa Monica. All donations benefited the American Red Cross, which distributes food to agencies around Los Angeles County, including the Westside Food Bank.

The Santa Monica city departments that donated the most amount of food and their total contributions were:

Small department: City Attorney’s Office – 8,500 pounds of food; Medium department: Public Library – 5,953 pounds of food; and Large department: Big Blue Bus – 2,859 pounds of food.

City employees donated $4,312 in cash contributions, and online donations to the Red Cross came in at $885, which are equivalent to 25,985 pounds of food, according to Big Blue Bus officials.

Combined with the 3,016 pounds collected from the food bins around the city, the grand total was 29,001 pounds of food donated, which will go directly to local families.

Recipients of the American Red Cross of Santa Monica include the Westside Food Bank, which feeds more than 70,000 people each year; WISE Senior services, which operates local senior centers in the area; and Meals on Wheels, offering mobile food service for local senior citizens.

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