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Food quality, sanitation suffer at Veterans Village of San Diego

A meal provided to a resident at the Veterans Village of San Diego campus in January 2022.
Photo provided by a resident of Veterans Village
A meal provided to a resident at the Veterans Village of San Diego campus in January 2022.

Staff and residents at Veterans Village of San Diego said the nonprofit’s rehab center had not provided appropriate food and was struggling to keep the facilities clean and sanitary.

They shared photos and videos of expired food, unhealthy meals, clogged toilets, dirty bathrooms and cockroaches inside the residential drug and alcohol treatment center.

An inewsource investigation has found that there has been a growing presence of illicit substances inside the renowned 224-bed rehab center, which poses a risk to vulnerable residents trying to recover from addiction.

Conditions have also deteriorated in the bathrooms and the kitchens over time, according to clients and employees.

A meal provided in the mess hall at the Veterans Village of San Diego rehab center in March 2022.
Photo taken by a Veterans Village resident
A meal provided in the mess hall at the Veterans Village of San Diego rehab center in March 2022.

“Back in the day, you definitely left this place fat,” said former resident Josh Margetts with a laugh. “They fed us very well.”

Margetts has stayed in the rehab center five times since 2000. When he returned this year, he noticed a big difference.

“The food here pretty much sucks,” he said.

Margetts left the treatment program in May. In the weeks before his departure, he said the food quality improved substantially because a new cook was hired, but it’s “not the same as before.”

The mess hall has been a point of pride for Veterans Village for decades. Residents were offered healthy and full meals to help their bodies and minds heal from addiction, and they were provided a community space to socialize with their fellow veterans.

Some residents at Veterans Village have little to no income — in particular, recent arrivals who have not received VA benefits yet — leaving them few options but to eat the food provided on campus.