Valérie Dufort-Roy | Klish Way
The economic stress resulting from the pandemic has driven many to resort to food donations for meeting their nutritional needs. Feeding San Diego, a local non-profit organization, has been at the forefront of meeting this urgent necessity, both by continuing to supplement nutrition for thousands of San Diegans, and by providing meals to those in new found economic distress. Since the beginning of the lockdown, the organization has distributed an impressive 4.5 million meals, while demonstrating a remarkable exercise in adaptability.
On a regular day, one in six children and one in eight people suffer from hunger in San Diego. Feeding San Diego’s approach to solving hunger is to rescue nutritious food, that would otherwise end up in the methane- generating landfill, and redistribute it to local charities. From groceries, restaurants and farms, rescued food is directly sent to local charities, mobile pantries, college distribution sites, military and veteran families.
The recent events have affected the demand and the access to food for the organization. It is estimated that hunger has increased by 50% in San Diego since mid-March, while local unemployment has risen by 30% (490,000 unemployed). In April, grocery store prices rose 2.6% nationally. Paradoxically, the ability for Feeding San Diego to rescue food has reduced by about 30% due to panic buying early on the pandemic and to disruptions in the food supply chain. The organization has reacted with purchasing 161 truckloads of food since mid-March, using $5.5M in monetary donations to foot the bill. Knowing that in an entire typical year, the organization purchases 24 truckloads of food demonstrates the dramatic effect of the pandemic in its operations. Additionally, Feeding San Diego has become a beneficiary from the Federal Coronavirus Food Assistance Program aiming to avoid agricultural dumping due to supply chain disruptions. Four additional weekly truckloads of produce are expected.
Given that tourism is the third largest segment of San Diego’s economy, we can expect for Feeding San Diego’s efforts to continue for the foreseeable future. While they have masterfully adjusted their operations to meet the local needs, the success of their work is powered by strong community support. Consider making a donation in support of your fellow San Diegans! Equally important, let’s also share information about solutions to hunger, including locations of community drive-thru food distribution points (https://feedingsandiego.org/). It is sobering to realize that so many recipients might never have suffered from hunger, until now.