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Collaborative Effort Brings Food To People In Need In North Park

Volunteer Lucia Philip puts food into a man's bag at the St. Luke's/Uptown Community Center 'super food pantry' on September 10, 2020.
Mike Damron
Volunteer Lucia Philip puts food into a man's bag at the St. Luke's/Uptown Community Center 'super food pantry' on September 10, 2020.

As the pandemic drags on, so does the need for food assistance for thousands in San Diego County. A recent SANDAG report found 70% of the region’s most underserved population is struggling to meet basic needs.

A collaborative effort in North Park is working to meet the need there.

Collaborative Effort Brings Food To People In Need In North Park
Listen to this story by John Carroll.

“I’m just glad they’re here,” said Dwight James as he got some much-needed food Thursday at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in North Park. This is a place where anyone who doesn’t have enough to eat can stop by and get what they need.

St. Luke’s partners with the Uptown Community Service Center and the San Diego Food Bank. It’s one of about 30 “super food pantries” across the county.

“The idea is to work with the San Diego Food Bank and provide a greater amount of food to people who are in need right now because of COVID-19,” said Uptown executive director Alisan Rowland.

The Uptown Community Center was providing food assistance long before the pandemic hit. But Rowland says since the dawn of COVID-19, the demand for food has skyrocketed.

“In January, we were giving out about 500 bags of food and by April, we were giving out about 1,500,” she said.

RELATED: North Park Gets A ‘Community Fridge’ Helping People Who Need Food

Collaborative Effort Brings Food To People In Need In North Park

This story came to KPBS news from Fr. Colin Mathewson who, along with his wife, the Rev. Laurel Mathewson, leads St. Luke’s.

He’d seen the story from a couple of weeks ago about the North Park fridge, which was removed after the business owner who allowed it to be there was told by his landlord to get rid of it or face eviction.

Mathewson wanted people to know there was still a place to get help in North Park. Now, the ability to help is growing.

Uptown is expanding what they provide to people from just dry goods, fruits and vegetables to foods that need to be refrigerated. That's because, thanks to a grant from the Food Bank, they just got new commercial-grade fridges a few days ago.

That’s good news for people like Lucia Philip, an immigrant from Sudan, whose husband lost his job due to COVID.

“We don’t have a lot, just we get the food and we happy we have the food. We just say thank you.”

Lucia Philip is doing more than saying thank you. She’s now a volunteer, helping with food distribution, helping others like her, who’ve had their lives turned upside down by COVID-19.