SAN DIEGO — Father Joe’s Villages announced Friday that a co-founder of San Diego-based Qualcomm donated a $2 million gift that will fund its lunch program for the next five years.
Father Joe’s Villages, founded by semi-retired Father Joe Carroll, serves about 700-900 lunches a day to the area’s homeless and hungry. The organization estimates the money will fund 300,000 meals annually.
“We are extremely grateful to Mr. Antonio for this tremendous donation, which will provide so many individuals with their only meal for the day,” said Diane Stumph, the social service agency’s president. “Mr. Antonio’s donation is great news for the souls who stand in line each day, and for all of San Diego because it shows that those with means care about their community and support their neighbors in need.”
The lunch program was one of the first services provided by Father Joe’s beginning in the early 1950s at St. Mary of the Wayside Chapel in East Village.
“Father Joe’s is a San Diego treasure,” Antonio said. “I’m incredibly impressed by what they accomplish, and I’m honored to be able to help.”
What will now be known as the Franklin Antonio Public Lunch Program provides free meals to the homeless and working poor. More than a third of the patrons are disabled and about 16 percent are veterans, according to Father Joe’s Villages.
Father Joe’s officials say San Diego has the fourth-largest population of homeless people in the U.S. and the third-largest population of homeless veterans.