Stormy weather brings deluge of good will, donations

Feeding San Diego volunteers

On Feb. 5, Feeding San Diego hosted a large-scale, drive-through, free food distribution at Faith Chapel in Spring Valley for nearly 750 households to help support flood victims after the recent 100-year storm, and the continuing following storms that have hit San Diego County.

Feeding San Diego Communications Sr. Manager Carissa Casares said it has been a dif¬ficult week piecing together the event and that the additional storms have not made it easy. The distribution was originally scheduled for Jan. 30, but was postponed due to the storms, but she said Monday’s distribution would happen rain or shine as people needed these additional supplies.

“We provide hunger relief year-round through a number of programs, but emergency response is something that we have always been actively a part of,” she said. “It is actually how we got our start. One of the first distributions that Feeding San Diego did was in response to the wildfires throughout 2007. Understanding that natural disasters, man-made disasters, they require a certain type of response. Food is often a number one item that is needed when there is an emergency and as we move into recovery. People need nutritious, ready to eat food that they can have access to at no costs. Because as we have seen over the past week, there is devastation in our community. Not just flooding. Some people lost everything.”

Casares said the organization “jumped into action” after the Jan. 22 storm, starting its emergency response by working through its network of distribution partners.

“We had our distribution partners reaching out in hard-hit areas, seeing if they could do a pop-up distribution, or if they had or have a food distribution, can we add more food to that,” she said. “We think we are going to have more families that need food now. That was mostly at our school pantry partners. Our school pantry works year-round, so it is schools that have more than 50% reduced meals and once or twice a month provides access to families in need of nutritious food. We upped the number of households, primarily in the South Crest, Southeast San Diego, National City area. Then we were also getting requests from the La Mesa/Spring Valley School District.”

Casares said that is how the emergency distributions began, then its Direct Service Team which handles direct food distribution began working on this Spring Valley food distribution event.

“They also put together a large-scale food distribution at Southwestern College on Feb. 10 from 10 a.m. to noon, for 1,200 households,” she said. “Southwestern was a site when we had emergency distribution in response to the pandemic. We already had that relationship and they invited us. We rely on sites to donate their space and allow us to pop-up and invite the community. That can be hard to find sites for large-scale distributions, so it is amazing that Southwestern College has opened its space for us. We are not asking for registration. There are no requirements. That is something Feeding San Diego is proud of. It is not like many ordinary food banks where you have requirements you have to show, like income requirements. By showing up, for us, that means you have the need.”

For more information about distributions, volunteering, and donating, visit www.feedingsandiego.org.

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