By Maureen McNair
Food pantries across San Diego County, including ours, face several months of food shortages. The US Department of Agriculture farm to family program from which our South Bay Food Pantry has received many tons of food, has largely cut SD County out of federally funded food distribution contracts that cover the next several months. Our South Bay Food Pantry will be relying on food from the Jacobs and Cushman San Diego Food Bank and Feeding San Diego. However, both food banks limit the amount of food we can get from them. Feeding San Diego currently allows us food from their warehouse only two days a month. We shop weekly at the San Diego Food Bank warehouse, but our credit limit restricts the amount of food we can purchase there.
We only had a few cans of food on hand and told her we had no opening plans yet. But, we offered to give her food. We gave her several cans of food with pop tops. She turned out to be the first client at our South Bay Food Pantry.
On this week where we focus on gratitude we recommend watching two short videos:
By Maureen McNair
Last Saturday, the pantry held its largest food distribution to date. We gave away over 8,000 pounds of nutritious food. We distributed a variety of kinds of fresh produce, milk, yogurt, cheese, meat, poultry, shelf stable food such as cereal and pasta, and about 500 pounds of food donated by Starbucks. We also had the largest number of people come to the pantry for food. The prior week, we distributed food for over 150 heads of household, providing food for about 600 people. Last Saturday, we provided food for over 190 heads of household, providing food for about 800 people. Our pantry guests repeatedly express how thankful they are that we have this food distribution. One woman told me about her family emergency and how important we are to her. I want to pass on the gratitude I hear about to you. I am not completely sure why we saw such a huge increase in one week. But, I have a couple educated guesses.
SOLACE is a visitation program that comforts and supports persons held in immigration detention, tells their stories, and advocates for humane immigration policy. SOLACE offers a friendly visitor to end the isolation and affirm the dignity and worth of those who request a visit. Many people I've spoken to did not know we were back in as a presence at the Otay Mesa Detention Center. This is our 3rd life as SOLACE. We have to keep reinventing ourselves as we've been suspended three times. Two times because they changed the paperwork and agreements we needed to sign to enter the Detention Center? which would effectively have taken away our First Amendment rights. There were many visits to Congressional offices both times to find a way to get back in, as well as phone calls, and needed visits to pro bono attorneys. UURISE (Unitarian Universalist Refugee and Immigrant Services and Education, Inc.) was one of the organizations we consulted with about this.
Following the leadership of BIPOC folks & admitting we can (& do) harm others are important learnings. Gain some insights by listening to:
From our partners at the San Diego Immigrant Rights Consortium (SDIRC):
"Thank you to everyone for your hard work in making the 2020 TRUTH Act Forum a success! Collectively we:
By Maureen McNair
For the ﬁrst time since the food pantry opened, Lead Minister Rev. Kathleen Owens had her Saturday morning schedule freed up enough that she visited a food distribution. Kathleen did more than visit, though, she worked helping unload a delivery of food donated by Starbucks. There is nothing quite like repeatedly carrying 30 pound boxes of food across the parking lot to put into the cars of our pantry guests to drive home how labor intensive and physically exhausting pantry work can be. Kathleen is deﬁnitely up to the task! Rev. Kathleen also got to talk with regular volunteer, retired Rev. Arvid Straube, and some pantry volunteers that she knows because they are congregants. She also got to meet some, not all, of our volunteers from the wider community.
By Maureen McNair.
Inclement weather was bound to happen! Last Saturday, volunteers gave out food during three squalls which brought rain and wind during our distribution. It was a crazy day all around! As of Friday evening, we thought we would be receiving a delivery of 192 boxes of food on Saturday morning. But, at 6:30 am Saturday, the delivery company sent an email cancelling the order because the food was bad. It all worked out, I think. We had plenty of food on hand to substitute and who needed soggy cardboard boxes anyway? You Can Still Make Financial Donations Directly to the Food Pantry! Both one-time and monthly sustaining donations help us stay open! No amount is too small, or too large. Donate online. If you need food, there are lots of options, get all the details on our Food Pantry page.
Journey Toward Wholeness: What Can I Do? Learn about the role of race in Biden's victory & Trump's relative success by listening to NPR's podcast "How Whiteness Affected the Election" (35:39). Listen to Krista Tippett's interview [51:00] with a trauma specialist "Resmaa Menakem in Conversation with Robin DiAngelo." It has made an impression with Beloved Conversations Virtual participants and may challenge you.
By Maureen McNair
Deer Park Monastery, located on 400 acres in the chaparral mountains near Escondido, is a monastery established in 2000 under the guidance of Vietnamese Buddhist monk, peace activist, and author Thich Nhat Hanh. It is a mindfulness practice center and monastic training center with two hamlets, one for monks and laymen and another for nuns and laywomen.
Read our UUA President Rev. Susan Frederick Gray's UU World column "A Message to White Unitarian Universalsists" about how her attitudes on policing has changed over the past years & the resource list at the end of the article. Then watch the brief (2:13) interview with Sonya Renee Taylor on combating racism with action.
The volunteers had fun dressing up for our food distribution. And, as ever, our pantry clients are deeply grateful for the amount and quality of food we give them. I’ll be back next week with more pantry news. Meanwhile, take care and thank you for your continued interest in the pantry and generosity.
By Pat Gordon, First UU of San Diego Board Member
Our UU camp, Camp de Benneville Pines, located in the San Gorgonio wilderness, has been repeatedly hit hard this year and is in trouble. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all on-site events are canceled through April 1, 2021.The aftermath of the El Dorado Fire damage and the seriousness of the pandemic could require even further delays before we can consider re-opening. If we're to have a camp to bequeath to our children's children, then preserving what we have now is imperative. We almost lost our camp in the El Dorado Fire, this fire, and had it not been for the work of our staff and volunteers performing fire clearance duties throughout the summer, we would have. And yet, we'll still need more help during the spring and fall to rake pine needles and trim ladder fuels in camp- live or dead vegetation that allows a fire to climb up from the forest floor into the tree canopy. Please continue to send healing thoughts and good words of appreciation to our devoted staff, as they navigate through all the added responsibilities that come with the fire aftermath. We must now address the newest threat to camp's existence - flooding.
By Maureen McNair
Here is a good reason to answer a telephone call from an unknown phone number, even in the weeks leading up the election: it could be actual good news! Shirley Koch works for Rady’s Children’s Hospital in a program called Health Stars. Health Stars provides early literacy intervention for low income and homeless parents with children up to age 8. It was Shirley on the phone calling to introduce herself and ask if she and her team could distribute books and literacy information at some of our Saturday food and Sunday diaper distributions. I immediately agreed. Not only that, after Shirley explained her literacy mission in more detail, I let her know she had hit pay dirt to help her meet the goals of Health Stars.
Day of the Dead has been an important celebration for so many of us for the last few years. I have felt grateful for the opportunity to share with this congregation this holiday during worship. And I know this is a meaningful service for so many of our Mexican, Mexican-American, and Latinx members. An affirmation of our culture and an opportunity to honor our beloved dead in community. The pandemic has already prevented us from gathering and celebrating so many occasions together: Easter, Pride, Pachamama, and more. For our services and some rituals, we have tried new virtual ways to recreate them. But, leading a Day of the Dead service online didn’t feel right to me this year.
by Maureen McNair
Food pantry volunteers Loren and Dana Tomlinson are moving to Arizona at the end of November. They own a huge Ford pick up truck and have been reliably and enormously generous with their time and energy picking up food for the pantry. In fact, they are the only congregant volunteers the pantry has who have ever picked up food in a truck for the pantry. The pantry needs transportation in place no later than November 27. If you, or someone you know, owns a pick up truck or delivery van, now is a great time to volunteer!
Tuesday, October 13, 6 pm, Register here to get the link: http://bit.ly/LWVPropTalk. This year, we will be making decisions on 12 California ballot propositions and five more measures for San Diego city. Get the inside scoop on how to tackle your ballot this election season with the League of Women Voters & First Unitarian Universalist church.
By Maureen McNair.
Early food preparation last Friday for our Saturday food distribution went smoothly. Jared Blackwell, Kate Collier, Steve Gelb, Steve Howard, Andrea Travers, and I carried 3,350 pounds of food into the pantry and securely stored it. We even arranged the cantaloupes, potatoes, and apples in such a way that Saturday morning, we could create an easy assembly line to put the produce into bags. We worked hard, said our goodbyes, and went home. Then, my phone rang. It was a friend who operates a food pantry in San Ysidro. She was delivered 48 extra USDA boxes of perishable food, including eggs, cheese, meat, and a full gallon of milk. In total, it was nearly 1,600 pounds of food she could not distribute or store. “Can you take it?” She asked.
by Maureen McNair
The combo box program arrives just as our food pantry clientele continues to explode. Last Saturday, we distributed food to 152 heads of household who waited in line while volunteers unloaded the delivery truck. The heads of household have families with a total of about 650 people for whom we provided food for meals for a few days. We received 132 combo boxes and distributed food to a total 152 households. So, one of the things I am working on this week is trying to obtain more boxes of food for October.
by Maureen McNair
Recently, during the same week, two adults visiting our South Bay Food Pantry told me they had not eaten in three days and I received an offer for 11,000 pounds of free apples. We all understand that people in our community go without food because they don't have the money to buy it. And, we know that many more than two people in our region went hungry that particular week. The produce wholesaler offered me the apples for free, if I would take them all. The transportation was our responsibility. The apples were harvested in Washington State and transported in a refrigerated semi-truck to the produce wholesaler's warehouse near the San Ysidro border crossing. But, the wholesaler couldn't find buyers for the apples. They were perishable and took up valuable warehouse space. If he didn't give away the apples, the company would have to pay the costs to transport the food to a landfill and pay the fee to use the landfill. That was more cash out of the business' pocket toward an investment that had already lost money. So, it made financial sense for the produce wholesaler to make a tax-deductible gift of the 11,000 pounds of apples.
The fall is a favorite season of mine. I enjoy the changes fall brings: cooler weather, the turning of leaves, and the food of the season. This month will also bring the opportunity to practice living our values and principles, to learn about ballot initiatives and engage deeply in important questions about who we want to be and what direction we want our country to move in as we approach the November election. Our monthly worship theme of Reparations is timely. This topic is both straight forward and complex. This topic brings up all kinds of emotions and there's a lot to learn together. For me, one of the biggest values tied to the theme of Reparations is truth-telling- recognizing the fuller story of our country's history and how it continues to play out in our lives today. This theme asks us important questions that affect our future. I recommend this article for you to read: Floyd’s America — Introduction: The Post-Slavery State, Homicide, and the New Case for Reparations.
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