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San Diego Food Banks Prioritize Meals For Seniors As Coronavirus Increases Demand

A Feeding San Diego employee loads onions onto a pallet, March 17, 2020.

Photo by Matt Hoffman

Above: A Feeding San Diego employee loads onions onto a pallet, March 17, 2020.

With San Diegans being laid off and out of work because of the coronavirus, local food banks are working to scale up their efforts.

"We are at this moment able to meet the needs of the people who are showing up at our distributions, but each day as this progresses the line is getting longer," said Feeding San Diego CEO Vince Hall.

Listen to this story by Matt Hoffman.

Hall said many people are turning to Feeding San Diego for the first time.

"Many people have been living paycheck to paycheck. Their hours have been cut back or they’ve been laid off, and suddenly they're in a cash crisis, making difficult decisions about, 'do I pay my rent, do I buy food?'"

To help meet the increased demand, Feeding San Diego is opening emergency distribution sites where people can get food without having to leave their cars, limiting potential exposure to the virus.

"Our supporters, our stakeholders are rallying. We’re purchasing more food," said San Diego Food Bank CEO James Floros. "We’re upping our game to make sure we have enough product."

The San Diego Food Bank is also scaling up.

"We’re already feeding 350,000 people a month and we may be feeding another couple hundred thousand a month," Floros said.

The Food Bank wants people to know they are not going anywhere.

"We’re getting a lot of calls from people that they think the distribution sites are closing down. They are not," Floros said.

Both organizations are working to prioritize getting food to seniors.

"Many seniors are used to coming to places where meals are prepared and served, and now they are basically isolating themselves from those sites," Hall said.

Feeding San Diego is looking at increasing deliveries.

"(We're) talking with large charities across San Diego county to see what temporary home delivery services for seniors can we spin up in the next couple of days," Hall said.

The San Diego Food Bank is also working through its partners to expand delivery for seniors, and is taking extra steps to ensure safety.

"We’re doing no touch distribution or what have you so we’re making sure that those distribution points are safe for our seniors," Floros said.

Between the two organizations, there are hundreds of food distribution sites across the county. To find one near you, or to set up home delivery for a senior, officials say to call 2-1-1.

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Photo of Matt Hoffman

Matt Hoffman
Health Reporter

opening quote marksclosing quote marksI am a general assignment reporter for KPBS. In addition to covering the latest news and issues that are relevant to the San Diego community, I like to dig deeper to find the voices and perspectives that other media often miss.

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