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San Diego Food Bank Feeds the Need

The organization continues to innovate to further its hunger relief mission

Corliss Vargo and Luz Salcido, Client-Choice Food Pantry volunteers
Image Credits San Diego Food Bank

After a two-year delay due to the pandemic, the North County Food Bank Client-Choice Pantry, which was temporarily replaced by a contactless drive-thru distribution model, was finally able to open its doors this past summer. Open Monday through Friday from 10am to 2pm, the pantry resembles a small grocery store where clients can select nutritious foods they prefer for their families on a bimonthly basis. 

The significance of the client-choice model is that it acknowledges the dignity of those it serves. “We believe every individual is worthy of their basic needs being met, so they can prosper,” says Food Bank Director Wendy Starling. “Giving our clients the power of unlimited choice has created an environment of hope and a sense of relief.” In addition, unlike traditional food distribution models, which give clients a set menu of food items, client-choice pantries reduce waste by having each household take only what they want and need.  

“Food distribution at the food pantry is not seen as a handout, but as a resource for our community,” adds Starling, recognizing that hunger and malnutrition are both symptoms and further causes of poverty. When a person is hungry, they are less likely to be able to focus at work or school, and when a person is malnourished, they are at a higher risk for preventable diseases, leading to health issues and expensive medical bills — all of which make it harder to escape the poverty trap. 

Food 4 Kids Backpack Program example
Food 4 Kids Backpack Program example

Looking ahead, the Jacobs & Cushman San Diego Food Bank is making preparations for its 11th annual Chefs, Cork & Craft Gala. Taking place on Saturday, April 22, the evening dinner will be held outdoors on the grounds of the organization’s 90,000-square-foot warehouse in Miramar. Co-chaired by Pamela Hunt and Jeannie Johnson, the event will feature live musical entertainment, fabulous silent and live auction items, and a multi-course dinner served by celebrated local chefs volunteering their time and talent. 

Gala proceeds will benefit the Food Bank’s hunger-relief programs and its Food 4 Kids Backpack Program that provides weekend food packages to chronically hungry elementary school students from low-income households who are at risk of hunger over the weekend when free school meals are unavailable. Every Friday afternoon, students on the program are called out of class, often to the school nurse’s office, and discreetly given a bag of food which is tucked into their backpacks. Each bag contains enough food to see the students through the weekend, and the privacy of the distributions removes the stigma that might be attached to the program.

For additional information about the upcoming gala and to learn about sponsorship opportunities, please contact Alexis Hernandez. 858.863.5113, ahernandez@sandiegofoodbank.org, sandiegofoodbank.org


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