San Diego Food Bank
Posted Feb. 5, 2015
“In 2014 we distributed more food and served more people than ever before in our 37-year history,” says Chris Carter, VP of communications for the Jacobs and Cushman San Diego Food Bank. In fact, last year the Food Bank distributed 22.3 million pounds of food to San Diego County — the equivalent of 18.6 million meals — directly to individuals through its 183 distribution sites. This food went to feed everyone from the homeless to military families, school children to the disabled, even families struggling in a downturned economy. So large and important is the continuing operation to feed those individuals that some 28,000 volunteers now regularly undertake the Food Bank’s cause to make it happen.
Since its inception in 1977, it has grown to serve more than 320,000 people per month in San Diego County, making it the largest food bank relief program in the country. Food comes in through a number of sources, including drives — which the Food Bank will guide interested businesses in undertaking — as well as the USDA, food manufacturers, food retailers, the agricultural sector, and other financial contributions. Through a network of 350 nonprofit partner organizations including food pantries, soup kitchens, homeless and residential shelters, youth programs, senior centers, and low-income daycare centers in communities, the Food Bank is then able to additionally distribute its foodstuffs.
More than a distribution service, the Food Bank strives to educate and bolster healthy eating in all San Diegans, especially children and seniors, and combat issues of obesity. To accomplish this the organization has partnered with programs such as Healthy Options Healthy Meals, Choosing Healthy Options Program (CHOP), the Farm to Family Program, and Solving Obesity and Nutritional Disease Affecting Seniors (SONDAS). Some 37 percent of the food it now delivers is in the form of fresh produce, and last year the organization saw the start of the Food 4 Kids Backpack Program, which provides healthy meals for underprivileged schoolchildren who cannot afford to eat properly at home.
The central hub of the Food Bank’s operations is its 72,000-square-foot warehouse in Miramar, where volunteers come to work and show their support by packing, separating, boxing, and preparing millions of pounds of food each year. This is also the site of its largest fundraiser of the year. The Viejas Foodtasia: Hail to the Chefs Gala will take place on May 2, with the warehouse transformed into an exclusive dining room in which dishes will be prepared by the county’s top chefs.
“Each chef will host their own personal table of ten guests,” explains Carter. “And each table will be personally styled by each chef. The evening will serve as an homage to our region’s celebrated chefs while supporting critical Food Bank hunger-relief programs including the Food 4 Kids Backpack program.” (858.527.1419, www.sandiegofoodbank.org) RYAN THOMAS