In 2007, when Feeding San Diego opened its doors, they were met with a trial by fire. The organization's grand opening coincided with San Diego County’s massive wildfires when thousands of families had to evacuate, and nearly 100 homes burned down.
“Disaster preparedness has always been a core part of our organization,” Feeding America's VP of External Affairs, Vince Hall, said. “It’s been integral to what we’ve trained for, and it’s always something we’re prepared for.”
Feeding San Diego is the leading hunger-relief and food rescue organization in San Diego County and the only Feeding America affiliate in the region. Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, there has been a dramatic spike in need for food across the county, and Feeding San Diego has stepped up to the challenge.
“In the past, 1 in 8 people are facing hunger,” Hall said. “Now, we are seeing a 50 percent increase in hunger due to the fact that nearly 30 percent of San Diegans are unemployed. People don’t wear 'I’m hungry' on a T-shirt. They just struggle silently.”
During normal times, 97 percent of the food Feeding San Diego distributes to the community is rescued and they only have to purchase 20 to 25 truckloads of food each year. However, because of COVID-19, the nonprofit had to order 133 truckloads to support demand in the months of March and April alone. While Feeding San Diego has conservatively estimated they have fed more than 600,000 people since the start of COVID-19 shelter-in-place orders, it is likely they will feed significantly more through the rest of 2020.
"In the first week of crisis, we knew this wasn't going to be a one-time food distribution for people in need,” Hall said. “We sought to create a county-wide schedule for food distribution that’s predictable and consistent. We knew this would be a marathon not a sprint.”
Feeding San Diego distributes meals in partnership with 300 local charities, schools, faith communities, meal sites and food pantries across San Diego County.
WHO NEEDS HELP?
Although volunteers assist the nonprofit with food distribution, the organization is managed by full- and part-time staff. Feeding San Diego also secured an SBA Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan through California Bank & Trust (CB&T) that helped maintain 58 jobs.
“We look at it as every dollar we have to pull from fundraising to use toward payroll, is a dollar less we have for food to feed people,” Hall said. "CB&T is more than just our PPP lender, they're our advocate. They have educated the community about our work and have even donated money to our organization."
“In the past, other Feeding Americas (across the U.S.) relied on each other to step in and help fill the gaps when we didn’t have enough food to meet the demands of a crisis. However, this pandemic is like a 50-state hurricane,” he said. “We’re lucky to have organizations like CB&T who invest in our charitable work and help those most affected by this crisis.”
CB&T donated $10,000 to Feeding San Diego to help their important work of supplying food to families in need. If you would like to read more or learn how to assist this organization, visit https://feedingsandiego.org/ [cite::171::cite] [cite::172::cite]