by Rhea Kuhlman, South Bay Food Pantry Volunteer.
At the South Bay Food Pantry, we never know until the last minute what kinds of fresh produce we’ll receive from the San Diego Food Bank and Feeding San Diego, or how much meat or bread will be available for our families on Saturday. But one thing we can always be sure of is that the bags of shelf stable goods the mid-week baggers put together every week will contain good healthy food that can keep a family going, regardless of what else is available. The SBFB always keeps on hand stores of non-perishable items to supplement the fresh and frozen items we distribute each Saturday
By Nina Douglass, South Bay Food Pantry Volunteer
The parking lot of 907 Broadway is like that of any other Chula Vista strip mall on weekdays. On Saturdays, however, the lot is transformed by hundreds of South Bay Food Pantry volunteers and clients. Volunteers arrive by 8am to receive and stage hundreds of pounds of canned and other dry goods, fresh produce and Starbucks bakery items from the big Feeding San Diego truck. By then, many pantry guests are already waiting for the 9am distribution of numbers which serve to organize the line-up for the 11am - 12:30pm food distribution. The few trees at the site provide welcome shade for people waiting to collect their food.
by Nina Douglass, South Bay Food Pantry Volunteer
When asked what inspired her to found the South Bay Food Pantry, FUUSD member Maureen McNair has recalled noticing signs of insufficient access to nutritious food among the elementary school children she taught in that neighborhood. Maureen’s recognition that chronic food insecurity in the South Bay is pervasive led her to address the problem through the creation of the pantry.
By Tony Bianca, Program Director
As we enter April, I'm mindful of the many spring holidays that celebrate new life and new beginnings. I'm also reflecting on our April theme, "Stories of Who We Are,'" and wondering what the next chapter of our story is going to be like. We'r e in a time of the year when we, your Program Staff, would normally be wrapping things up and looking toward the slower,
low-key days of summer - those months when there's less going on and more people away on vacation. But, this year, who knows? Things have been shut down for so long, it feels somehow wrong to start winding down just as we?re gearing up. So, at the risk of interfering with your summer plans, I'd like to ask you to consider committing some time to help with our Lifespan Programs. Here are some areas where we could use your help:
Help First UU become more of a “happening place” and promote more multi-generational, ethnic, racial, and class diversity at First UU, including greater offerings for events - among members, attendees and families. The Board has created a new board committee to administer the Outreach and Growth Fund (OGF) that was created as part of the generous Renewal and Growth Fund donation to the church in late 2021.
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.
By Maureen McNair
I met the homeless man I will call Angelo in a moment of synchronicity. Angelo, who was so gracious, considers his life a success. I want you to meet him too, at least virtually. Here are the events that converged to bring us together and what he shared about himself. County Public Health closed down another food pantry in Chula Vista for a couple weeks because that pantry has an outbreak of Covid-19. Again. Pantries cover for one another, so last Monday, I drove over to a donor of the closed pantry to pickup 185 pounds of free frozen meat. Our clients at the South Bay Food Pantry will be thrilled to receive such a bounty the Saturday before Christmas!
By Maureen McNair
Less than two miles from our South Bay Food Pantry in Chula Vista, UC San Diego Medical School is conducting a Covid-19 prevention study to evaluate a vaccine. Pantry volunteer Jude Outwater, a senior at Lesley University in Boston and son of Board Vice President Julie Forrest, organized a visit by a representative from the Medical School to recruit study volunteers. Medical School Community Outreach Specialist Aaron Gutierrez spoke to Pantry clients and volunteers to ﬁnd adults, aged 18 and older, who are more likely to be exposed to Covid-19 and who might be interested in participating in the study, which does provide compensation.
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.
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.
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.
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
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!
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
Four hundred years ago, in the first quarter of 2020, one of San Diego's two major food banks, Feeding San Diego, brought on our little pantry as a partner. They paired us with a Chula Vista grocery store. Several volunteers and I trained at Feeding San Diego (FSD) on how to pick up free food the grocery store would otherwise send to the landfill. FSD scheduled our first appointment to pick up free food. But, that week, as bad luck would have it, the governor closed the state because of the Corona virus. FSD canceled our appointment because there was no food. So, we never got food through this partnership. Feeding San Diego (FSD) then closed itself for two weeks to reorganize so it could support the increased demand for food from its existing pantry partners. I am sure many of you recall the food shortages and empty store shelves. FSD was very kind to our pantry, giving us thermometers for our refrigerators and freezers, a scale, a freezer blanket, and inviting me to online training. But, they also made it clear they would not be able to give us the one thing our pantry needed the most - food. That remains their official policy now - no food to new pantry partners. Until, one recent day, I received a gift by way of text.
By Maureen McNair
Last week, Dana and Loren Tomlinson took their pickup truck on vacation, went boating on a lake, and left me to figure out food pick up and delivery for the pantry. The three of us have a good thing going. We plan what we are going to do to get food to the pantry, then we follow the plan. Since our pantry does not own a pickup truck or delivery van and I own a Prius, I called around to other pantries to see if anyone had an extra truck to deliver food for our Saturday morning distribution. Saturdays are busy food distribution days so I made lots of calls. Pantry friend Andre, who lives and works in Carlsbad, came through for us, and this is not the first time. Once, Andre decided our pantry needed another refrigerator. So, he gave us a used one, which he drove down from Carlsbad in the back of his pickup truck. When Andre arrived in our parking lot with the refrigerator, I noticed he did not bring portable ramps. Portable ramps are gadgets that allow a person to take an appliance strapped to a dolly and roll the appliance from the truck bed to the ground. "Did you bring portable ramps?" I asked Andre. "I have what I need," he said. Andre then reached into his pickup truck bed, wrapped his arms around the full sized refrigerator, lifted it to the ground, and carried it across our parking lot into what used to be the church social hall. I followed Andre carrying a reasonably-sized object - an iced latte.
By Maureen McNair
Last Saturday morning, a woman I had never met drove over to my house and gave me $300 in cash. To be fair, I had spoken with her on the phone earlier in the day when she used her credit card to pay the fees for over a week at a county campground. Her altruism was on behalf of a homeless US Marine and his family who showed up at the South Bay Food Pantry earlier in the day. The Marine, David, with his two year old son in tow, found our pantry through 211 emergency services. One of our pantry volunteers gave David a standard bag of food we create for unsheltered guests. Saturday was a busy day. Our pantry has seen a 25% increase in clients over the last two weeks. Last Saturday when David showed up, we served 127 heads of household, representing about 570 people, in 90 minutes. I did not have a chance to get to know David until he came back later to give me his phone number. He had offered to volunteer.
By Maureen McNair
In June of 2019, four or five congregants attending the annual meeting in the Meeting House wrote down that their vision for the future of First UU included a food pantry or a soup kitchen. At the time, the primary concerns on the minds of most people at that meeting were things such as how we would respond to the offer from UCSD Medical Center to purchase our Hillcrest campus; whether we would expand our music, dance, and art programs; and, requests that we find more ways to enjoy meals together. I didn't believe those few requests to start a food pantry would make it into the top five goals of the new strategic plan the congregation was providing input for. But, those requests reflected such an acute and immediate need that, as a newly elected member of the Board of Trustees, I thought we should do something about them.
The South Bay food pantry will be open every Saturday in May from 11 am - 12:30 pm.
Hillcrest: bring your food donations to the Hillcrest parking lot every Saturday from 8am-9am. Deliver bags and boxes to the bed of Dana Tomlinson’s dark grey Ford pick-up truck with camper shell.
South Bay: deliver donations directly to the food pantry from 9:30am - 10 am. Get directions to either location.
Peanut butter is our most frequently requested food! We cannot buy it in bulk, so your individual donations of 1 or 2 jars makes a difference! Our other frequently requested items are:
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