Feeding the Region’s Vulnerable During the COVID-19 Crisis

Feeding the Region’s Vulnerable During the COVID-19 Crisis
The San Diego Foundation and Qualcomm Foundation's grant to the San Diego Food Bank will allow for enhanced infrastructure to facilitate the distribution of more food to more people due to the COVID-19 crisis. (Photo Credit: Jacobs & Cushman San Diego Food Bank)

The numbers barely begin to tell the story.

  • 1.3 million – pounds of food the Jacobs & Cushman San Diego Food Bank has distributed to those in need since March 12, when San Diego County declared a state of emergency due to the coronavirus.
  • 14,000 – seniors who rely on 36-pound boxes of sustenance the Food Bank provides each month through 65 distribution centers.
  • 1,000 – families who received bags packed with groceries at the SDCCU Stadium parking lot on March 28 through the Food Bank’s Emergency Food Assistance Program.
  • 105 – Food Bank distributions this past week alone.

With projections calling for up to 350,000 local jobs that could be lost as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the San Diego Food Bank – bolstered by a $500,000 grant funded through the Qualcomm Foundation and The San Diego Foundation’s COVID-19 Community Response Fund – is pulling out all the stops to protect the vulnerable. That was on display at St. Agnes Catholic Church the morning of March 26 for a monthly food distribution.

“It will help me get through these hard times; it’s a blessing that is deeply appreciated by all,” said a 60-year-old Ocean Beach resident who lost her job when San Diego’s shelter-in-place order was implemented to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Helen Logan was just as grateful. Neither the 62-year-old woman nor her husband is working and the couple is living with a friend in Point Loma for the time being. “We’ve been out of food for three days,” she said. “Right now, all we have in the refrigerator is condiments.”

The Food Bank, said President and CEO James Floros, was as prepared for the crisis as possible.

“We are experts in feeding people,” Floros said. “To be honest, there is a sense of calm and confidence. Before the crisis, the San Diego Food Bank was serving 350,000 people each month through 200 food distribution points and in cooperation with 500 nonprofit partners, so our thinking is, ‘We got this.’ The supply chain is there. This is what we do.”

Demand, however, is growing rapidly, making the recent $500,000 gift from The San Diego Foundation and Qualcomm indispensable. Funds will go toward purchasing nonperishable, shelf-stable items such as canned goods, rice, and dry beans that families can store and use over a period of time, while also allowing the Food Bank to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables. In addition, the grant will allow for enhanced infrastructure to facilitate the distribution of more food to more people due to the COVID-19 crisis.

“The San Diego Food Bank is open for business,” said Floros. “We aren’t going anywhere.”

Meanwhile, it is laying the groundwork to make home deliveries to some of the 14,000 seniors who receive a monthly 36-pound box of food. In addition, the Food Bank’s Emergency Food Assistance Program is planning additional large-scale distributions, similar to the March 28 event at SDCCD Stadium.

Those on the receiving end at St. Agnes were united in their praise, and prayers, for the philanthropic efforts. “What the Food Bank is doing is tremendous,” Logan said. “People are trying to find ways to survive. If it wasn’t for these people doing this, I don’t know what would become of us.”

Said Floros: “We want to make sure The San Diego Foundation, Qualcomm and the COVID-19 Community Response Fund understand how truly grateful and appreciative the San Diego Food Bank is for their generous help and support during these trying times.” Help San Diegans in need by donating to the San Diego COVID-19 Community Response Fund.

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