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.
Not quite a year has passed, but since then, the pantry has distributed over 100,000 pounds of nutritious food and built a roster of over 800 clients. Over 40 church members as well as new faces from the wider community serve as volunteers. Together, we have built our food distribution program during widespread food shortages and in the regional epicenter of the Covid-19 pandemic. In fact, since last May when it was clearer that the pandemic was taking a long-term hold, the pantry started storing food in the the South Bay worship space and social hall. We have out-grown our original closet!
Today, the food pantry serves very few people experiencing homelessness. The vast majority of our pantry guests are heads of households, many households with several adults and children. When we first opened, our only sources of food were church food drives and food we purchased at retail grocery stores with your donations. Since our opening, the food pantry has been accepted as a partner with both of the region's major food banks where we are able to obtain food at prices far below retail costs.
Our South Bay Food Pantry is also now a resource with 211, the San Diego County emergency resource center. We expanded our partnerships, and distribute free diapers every week on behalf of the Regional Diaper Bank. We also partner with Rady’s Health Stars program whose volunteers distribute free books in English and Spanish during our food and diaper distributions.
Our congregation has been very generous in sustaining the South Bay Food Pantry. If you make a donation to the South Bay Food Pantry this December, we will send you a link for a downloadable copy of our very first “South Bay Food Pantry Cookbook: The Best of 2020.”
Right now, I do not know how much food the South Bay Food Pantry will be able to source beginning January 1. Food banks (which distribute food to pantries) from across the country have been able to address the increased need for food with funds from the federal CARES Act. The CARES Act expires Dec. 31, and Congress has not yet renewed it. If we are able to source food at current levels, we can easily distribute 200,000 pounds of food into the community in the coming year. Please watch for articles in our weekly bulletin, “The Window,” for updates on how the South Bay Food Pantry is doing!
Thank you all for your interest in the South Bay Food Pantry and for your generosity. And, through whatever challenges you face, may you find moments of joy and gratitude.
Take good care, Maureen McNair, South Bay Food Pantry
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