Feeding Our Neighbors
San Diego Food Bank boosts its fight to end hunger
Posted on March 22, 2017
As it approaches its 40th anniversary, the Jacobs & Cushman San Diego Food Bank needs to expand both its footprint and overall services. Recent research shows a staggering number of San Diegans are still going hungry, according to James Floros, president of the nonprofit, one of California’s leading food charities.
“At least 100,000 more people in San Diego County are now food insecure than during the Great Recession,” says Floros. “Especially in North County, which has not recovered well from the downturn. So we’ve upped our game to serve those 30,000 to 50,000 people each month in that area.”
The Food Bank’s newest North County warehouse facility in San Marcos, purchased just over a year ago, allows the organization to develop new partnerships and programs for areas including Escondido, Vista, San Marcos, and Oceanside. The group has added 60 new distribution agencies, expanding its total not-for-profit distribution partners to more than 400.
Beyond broadening their geographic reach, Floros says they are focusing on a new demographic: college students. “We just launched our college hunger relief program,” he explains, “because the story of the ‘starving college student’ isn’t cute. Half of students report they don’t have enough money to buy textbooks for their education because they have to choose between food and books.”
To combat this, the Food Bank now operates pantries on campuses including UC San Diego, San Diego City College, Southwestern, and soon at San Diego State. In January, the organization held the “Great Convening,” hosting representatives from every college, community college, and university in San Diego County to find a regional approach to end college hunger. “We’re helping them find resources, and if a campus wants to start its own food pantry, we help them with that too,” Floros says.
The program echoes another of the group’s school-based programs. In 2015, the charity began the Food 4 Kids Backpack Program, which provides healthy meals for younger, underprivileged schoolchildren who cannot afford to eat sufficiently at home.
Another new endeavor says something about the Food Bank’s mission to lift people out of poverty. “We’re moving toward becoming a diaper bank,” Floros says. “A typical story these days involves mothers putting their children in daycare, but the daycare requires them to bring eight to ten diapers a day.” The Food Bank is seeking formal diaper bank certification, which will allow it to purchase diapers at a discount.
As the San Diego Food Bank moves forward, funding remains a steady need. Its annual fundraising gala will take place on April 29 in its Miramar warehouse, featuring 25 of the county’s best chefs preparing a multi-course meal with drink pairings. 858.527.1419 sandiegofoodbank.org Ryan Thomas