We’ve been marking our 10-year anniversary with something that we’re calling a 10×100 Campaign. We wanted to give something back to the world that has given so much to us, so we’ve decided to donate $100, each, to 10 nonprofits throughout the year. This month, we’re giving $100 to the San Diego Food Bank, and sharing this Q&A with SDFB’s CEO Casey Castillo.
When was the San Diego Food Bank founded and how does it fulfil its mission?
Founded in 1977, the Jacobs & Cushman San Diego Food Bank and our North County Food Bank chapter comprise the largest hunger-relief organization in San Diego County.
The mission of the San Diego Food Bank is to provide nutritious food to people in need, advocate for the hungry, and educate the public about hunger-related issues. The San Diego Food Bank accomplishes its mission by working in partnership with over 500 nonprofit partners, faith-based organizations, and school districts, to serve people throughout all of San Diego County.
Tell us about the people the San Diego Food Bank serves and why it’s so important.
The SDFB serves anyone who suffers from chronic hunger in San Diego County: old and young, urban and rural, active duty and veterans, elementary school and university students, individuals and families, all ages, religions, races and ethnicities. There is no single “type” of person who is hungry in San Diego. Hunger can, and does, affect everyone. More specifically, the Food Bank remains the critical link to basic nutritional needs for low-income seniors, working poor families with children, chronically food insecure students (from elementary school to college and university), the homeless, veterans and nearly 39,000 active-duty military and their families.
Before COVID-19 the Food Bank served 350,000 individuals monthly, but during the pandemic, this number spiked to nearly 600,000 per month. The Food Bank now serves approximately 400,000 San Diegans every month and expects this number to stay constant, or even rise again. In collaboration with nearly 550 Nonprofit Partners, including 57 San Diego County elementary schools in 14 school districts, emergency shelters, food pantries, soup kitchens, faith-based organizations and mobile distribution pantries, we touch the lives of San Diego residents throughout the entire county by providing nutritious food, hope, and access to healthy food.
Food insecurity and a lack of access to nutritious food have been identified as the top social determinants of health that contribute to increased incidences of diabetes, obesity, and other nutritional diseases, increasing an individual’s susceptibility to every category of mental illness including mood, anxiety, behavioral, and substance disorders. Extensive research has also linked hunger and food insecurity to negative physical and mental health outcomes, permanently impaired cognitive development in children, disruptive behaviors, and poor academic performance.
Poverty is almost always a condition that equates to hunger. The ultimate goal of the Food Bank is to break the cycle of poverty, and that begins with access to nutritious food.
What are the San Diego Food Bank’s goals for 2023?
This year, the San Diego Food Bank has once again set a goal of distributing 45 million pounds of food to those facing food and nutrition insecurity throughout our county. We aim to provide 13 million pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables to ensure our clients have regular and consistent access to the nutritious food they need.
We are looking to expand our two relatively new programs – Diaper Bank and Period Supply Program – while also adding schools from the waitlist to full participation in our Food 4 Kids Backpack Program. Removing barriers to education and employment remain the core focus of the Food Bank and we want to accomplish more in these areas in the year ahead.
How does the San Diego Food Bank use its donations?
Inspired by our clients’ resilience in the face of adversity and the persistence to work for a better life for themselves and their families, the San Diego Food Bank remains the critical link to basic needs for 400,000 San Diegans every month.
By providing access to nutritious foods, diapers and period supplies, the Food Bank can ease the burden on military families struggling to stretch their monthly incomes, seniors choosing between life-saving medications and healthy foods at the grocery store, young parents and new families trying to juggle the demands of childcare while trying to also work and get an education to improve their condition, college students skipping meals to afford their textbooks, and school children trying to succeed academically but lacking regular access to meals on the weekends.
What is the easiest way for donors to make a contribution to the San Diego Food Bank?
The quickest and easiest way to make a financial donation to the Food Bank is on our secure website at sandiegofoodbank.org. Just click on the DONATE tab (top right of page) and various options will be made available. More impactful than making just a one-time donation, donors can become monthly donors, create a tribute or memorial gift for a loved one, or make a bequest through our planned giving option.
The “More Ways to Give” option on our website includes other ways concerned people can support the Food Bank, such as coordinating a workplace giving program, gifts of stocks, donations of vehicles, or through other specific programs and initiatives, such as our Military Initiative.
In addition to financial donations, concerned individuals, industries and businesses, can also donate food or host a food drive.