We are honored to welcome North County Food Bank to our Mainstreet Association. Read below to learn more about what they are working on, how you can get involved, and how these intense times are affecting their mission.
The Jacobs & Cushman San Diego Food Bank and North County Food Bank chapter comprise the largest hunger-relief organization in San Diego County. Last year, the Food Bank distributed 28 million pounds of food, and the Food Bank serves, on average, 350,000 people per month in San Diego County. With COVID, the Food Bank is now serving 600,000 people a month.
Through the North County Food Bank chapter and by partnering with nearly 500 nonprofit partners with feeding programs, the Food Bank provides nutritious food to individuals and families in need in communities throughout San Diego County.
Q&A with Alden Domini
1. Are there any specific obstacles that you feel may be getting overlooked during the pandemic that in turn, affect separate specific programs that NC Food Bank offers?
With COVID, we’re feeding 600,000 people a month right now. In a typical year, we purchase $1 million in food to bridge the gap between donations and community demand. Since last March, we’ve purchased $10 million in food to date. Every dollar donated equates to meals, and there’s no donation too small.
Our community may wonder how they can make a difference…there are a variety of ways to get involved and help us make an impact in San Diego: from volunteering and helping distribute food or sort food and diapers, to hosting a Food Drive/Virtual Food Drive, to sharing our mission and work with your network, friends and family. As we always say, it takes a community to feed a community.
2. Are Virtual drives proving to be successful? Why or why not? What is working, or what could use some extra help?
Our Virtual Food Drives have been incredibly successful, especially when COVID hit San Diego. Many companies, organizations and schools have been hosting Virtual Food Drives to allow people to give back to our community from the safety of their homes. These Virtual Food Drives are free for anyone to host, and act like an online store where you can go to a customized link, purchase most needed food items or meals, pay securely online and the donation comes directly to us. If we could get people to agree to host these free drives, it would help us make a huge impact. The need is enormous right now.
3. What motivates you and your team to do what you do?
The Food Bank is an incredible team and we’re motivated by the difference we’re making in our neighborhoods, feeding our local working-poor families, children living in poverty, low-income military families and fixed-income seniors. With many schools closed for on-site education, we needed to pivot to support our local children with our Food 4 Kids Backpack program, and how to get them their weekend food backpacks when they’re not at school (we discovered years ago that many children’s last meal is Friday with school lunch, and they don’t eat again until Monday morning when they’re back at school-our backpack program provides them a discreet backpack with nutritious food to get them and their siblings through the weekend).
Additionally, with this pandemic, there is an exponential increase in demand for food and diaper assistance from tens of thousands of families affected by furloughs and job loss. Knowing that our team is able to support our food insecure right now is a huge motivator.
The Food Bank relies on individuals and volunteer groups to help us in our warehouse, at food distribution sites, and at Food Bank events. Volunteers must be 16 years of age or older to volunteer at the North County Food Bank’s warehouse. Training is not required, and there are no time commitments. You may volunteer one time, or on a regular basis.