Ride-along: How Feeding San Diego rescues surplus food from grocery stores

Hunger Action Month

SAN DIEGO — FOX 5’s Kristina Audencial went on a ride along with Feeding San Diego to see first-hand how the organization is trying to eliminate hunger by rescuing food during Hunger Action Month.

Hunger is a widespread problem in San Diego with a third of residents, including 284,000 children, considered food insecure.

“It’s your neighbor, it’s your friend. It’s someone you work with,” Kate Garrett, food rescue manager with Feeding San Diego, said. “Food insecurity, it’s really just anyone who might otherwise have to decide between paying a medical bill or paying their rent.”

A partnership with Jimbo’s is one way Feeding San Diego aims to help. At least three times a week, Jimbo’s employees load a Feeding San Diego van with produce that might have otherwise been tossed out. The items are instead brought to those in need.

“We donate every year more than 30 tons, 30-40 tons of food out to the community,” Stephanie Morris, sustainability coordinator at Jimbo’s, said. “For us it means the world because Jimbo’s is local organic grocer. All our stores are here in San Diego and it’s important for us to connect with the community.”

Beginning next year, a new state law will require supermarkets and grocery stores to donate all their surplus to food banks instead of sending it to a landfill. Stores like Jimbo’s beat the state to the punch and started their food rescue donations years ago.

Boxes filled to the brim get picked up by Feeding San Diego or a community partner. This week’s destination was the North County LGBTQ Resource Center in Oceanside.

“There’s not a food scarcity or sourcing problem, it’s a distribution problem,” Garrett said. “We actually take food to all other nonprofits, faith-based organizations.”

For Allan Acevedo, these drop-offs help LGBTQ families who are vulnerable in the community.

“Over the last year we have been able to help over 700 families,” Acevedo said. “Food rescue is something we want to de-stigmatize and make people understand that it’s not just charity, it’s a way to help divert food from the landfills. And I know specifically for us here at the center, we are able to help a lot of LGBTQ youth and seniors.”

Last year, 70% of the food distributed by Feeding San Diego was part of the food rescue program.

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