Over the next five years, Father Joe’s Villages – San Diego’s largest residential homeless services provider – will be able to serve more than 1.5 million lunches to those in need thanks to a recent $2 million donation.
On Friday, the organization announced that Qualcomm, Inc., co-founder and executive vice president Franklin Antonio had made the generous donation to the organization’s lunch program – now renamed the “Franklin Antonio Public Lunch Program.”
According to Father Joe’s Villages, the hefty contribution will break down to more than 300,000 lunches for the hungry over the course of the next five years, or up to 900 meals per day.
Open daily, the lunch program -- which began in the early 1950s at St. Mary of the Wayside Chapel in East Village as one of the first services provided by the organization -- currently serves between 700 and 900 of San Diego’s poor, homeless and hungry at each sitting.
In total, more than one million meals are served each year to homeless men, women and children and the working poor though Father Joe’s Villages programs, the organization said.
Those with disabilities make up one-third of those dining through the program, while U.S. military veterans make up another 16 percent.
The outreach lunch program is offered free of charge at the Paul Mirable Center at 1501 Imperial Ave.
Currently, San Diego has the fourth largest population of homeless individuals in the United States. San Diego is also home to the third largest population of homeless U.S. military veterans in the country.
Diane Stumph, president of Father Joe’s Villages, said the $2 million donation will be instrumental in keeping the lunch program running.
“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 Stumph on Friday. “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.”
For his part, Antonio, a graduate of UC San Diego, said he’s “honored to be able to help.”
“Father Joe’s is a San Diego treasure. I’m incredibly impressed by what they accomplish,” he said in a statement Friday.
Besides providing thousands of meals at various sittings daily, Father Joe’s Villages also houses more than 1,200 people every day, including more than 200 children and more than 200 military veterans.
The organization’s agencies strive to provide meals, housing programs and services such as healthcare, education, job training and child development in an effort to offer solutions and transform the lives of those in need and end the cycle of homelessness.
For more information about the organization, including how to help, visit this website.