An estimated 14.3 percent of American households were food insecure at least some time during 2013.

However, what’s even more jarring is that a lack of access to food can have negative impacts on childhood education, job performance and a long list of other daily challenges affecting everyone from youth to seniors. This is why food pantries and local community kitchens are so vital for food assistance and overall well-being.

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On average, pantries provide 239 million pounds of food per month. These services are locally based and rely heavily on volunteers.

Planting the Roots in Chula Vista

In operation for 12 years, the St. Rose Lima food pantry in Chula Vista is one of the largest resource providers to the homeless and working poor in the community.

“With 1,084 active Chula Vista homeless and low-income clients, we are acutely aware of the health and nutritional deficiency of this population in need,” commented St. Rose Lima Outreach and Development Coordinator Rosy Vasquez.

Not only is it difficult to properly feed those in need, but doing so in a healthy and fresh manner remains a priority for the organization.

In collaboration with food and farming professionals, and with the help of expert local gardener Steve Cooper, St. Rose of Lima put together a blueprint for a project to provide fresh produce to families in need.

Fresh to Families - Food Security

Fresh to Families Project Aids Food Security

Starting in 2014, thanks to a grant from the Chula Vista Charitable Foundation, the Fresh to Families project began changing the food and nutrition habits within the community. St. Rose of Lima leverages local volunteers to build and harvest community gardens throughout Chula Vista that supply residents with healthy food.

Currently, the organization maintains nearly a dozen community gardens and provides training to residents to ensure the sustainability of the program. Once up and running, each community garden provides nearly 100 pounds of produce per week.

Fresh to Families has distributed over 5,000 pounds of fresh produce to Chula Vista residents in need in the past year.

“Our community farmers and volunteers all are aware of the great need in our community for what they are doing,” stated Vasquez. “There is a strong sense of responsibility when growing for your community and feeding your neighbors.”

Fresh vegetables and fruits are delivered to the St. Rose of Lima food pantry weekly and distributed to Chula Vista homeless and low-income residents three times a week with the help of community volunteers.

Food Security

What’s Next?

Fresh to Families is currently finishing up two additional community gardens. Residents who want to get involved are encouraged to donate their time and talent to support accessible, healthy eating.

“Volunteerism is a call to action. If you give people the opportunity to volunteer, they will impress you,” said Vasquez. “Fresh to Families gives Chula Vista residents that opportunity.”


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