San Diego Food Bank
Photography courtesy of San Diego Food Bank
Of the three million residents currently living in San Diego, close to 485,000 live in or near poverty – facing continual food insecurities, or simply the threat of hunger; children account for more than 56 percent of this group. With the economy, homelessness and the working-poor contributing factors, the equation includes families and individuals that either do not have enough food, do not know where their next meal is coming from, or are having to choose between paying medical bills, rent or groceries. On a mission to feed and advocate for the hungry, the San Diego Food Bank serves more than 340,000 individuals each month – a number that equates to an estimated 15.3 million pounds of food and 12 million meals annually. This is their plight
Formerly under the direction of the Neighborhood House Association, the San Diego Food Bank – home to a 72,000 square foot warehouse in Miramar – has for more than 30 years extended hunger relief throughout the county’s 4,200 mile radius, acting as a central distribution hub for its partners and those in need. And with a strong network of more than 350 non-profit partners on their Charity Food Program (ranging from food pantries and soup kitchens, to shelters, schools and low-income daycare centers), their goal is quite simple: to alleviate hunger in San Diego County.
Connecting the people it serves to a range of health and human service providers, the Food Bank hosts 11 programs within its care – helping to serve expectants mothers, seniors over 60, neighborhood sites distributing fresh fruits and vegetables and weekend backpack program for elementary children, among others. In all, 150 distribution sites and more than 20 schools countywide are utilized each month, along with a force of 15,000-plus volunteers clocking more than 30,000 visits on an annually basis.
“Our food drive collection points are seasonal,” notes Chris Carter of the San Diego Food Bank. “So we have barrels in supermarkets during the holidays and over the summer. The best way [you] can help is to hold a food drive within [your] community group, business, school or faith organization, or [possibly] volunteer at our warehouse or donate money online. Every dollar we receive equals three meals.”
Further explaining his childhood experiences and passion for helping those in need, he continues, “I personally experienced hunger as a child and a program close to my heart is our Backpack Program. I derive enormous satisfaction seeing individuals and families being helped at our distribution sites, and it is a pleasure to be with an organization that is such a critical resource for so many people in our community.”
Relying entirely on volunteer support, the Food Bank inspects, sorts and packages food daily for distribution; donations are received through local drives and growers, retailers, wholesalers and the USDA. And as a non-profit organization, donations are provided by individuals and families, foundations and corporate sponsors.
Despite economic forecasts and recoveries in the U.S. and around the world, the simple fact remains: unemployment in San Diego County currently resonates above 10 percent. As a result, the Food Bank is serving more people than ever before with growing demand. And according to J. Scofield Hage, the Food Bank’s executive director and CEO, “Your donation will most likely go to a family in need, and will prevent a child from going to bed hungry.”
Most Needed Food Items
• Canned meats and tuna
• Canned soups and beans
• Canned fruits and vegetables
• Dry cereal and rice
• Mac & Cheese
• Dried pasta
• Peanut butter
• Infant formula
San Diego Food Bank