In the history of the San Diego Food Bank, there has never been a greater need for food donations. But they say donations to their Holiday Food Drive are down this year.
“Last year, from the beginning of October to this time last year, Dec. 13, we received 399,345 pounds of food through food drive donations,” said San Diego Food Bank spokesperson Chris Carter.
This year, for the same period, they received just 290,697 pounds. That’s a difference of 108,648 pounds, or 54 tons of food.
“Our total food drive donations last year was 656,247 pounds of food so we have a long way to go to reach last year’s total,” said Carter. “We are also concerned because we use the Holiday Food Drive to build our food supply for the winter months, but this year the food is going out as quickly as it is coming in.”
The San Diego Food Bank received 121,957 pounds of food in October, but they distributed 102,922 pounds.
Carter says they’re extremely concerned because while donations are down, the need is much greater this year.
“We are currently feeding more people now in our 34-year history serving San Diego County. We are feeding over 350,000 people per month and our food lines continue to grow,” Carter said.
He attributes the rise in need to the county’s unemployment rate.
“We fear that the prolonged economic downturn has created ‘donor fatigue’ among people who have consistently given to us in the past but due to strained budgets and a perception that there is no end to the economic downturn have stopped giving,” said Carter.
He points out that $1, or one can of food, will prevent a San Diegan from going to bed hungry.
“Ironically we actually have more businesses and schools running food drives for us this year compared to last year, but we are receiving less food overall through these food drives than last year,” said Carter.
The food bank has 613 food drives running, including 469 businesses hosting food drives and 144 schools.
Carter says families will suffer from the lack of donations. He says they never turn anyone away, but they are giving out less.
“When our food supply is stretched it means that we have to reduce the amount of food that we can provide families in need. Last year families received, on average, ten food items. This year we are giving out an average of five food items.
The food bank needs canned meats and protein items. This includes canned ham, tuna, chicken, spaghetti and meatballs, and canned chili.
“We also need canned vegetables and canned fruits as well as beans (canned or dried), oatmeal, cereal, and pasta,” said Carter.
If you would like to donate, you can drop non-perishable food items in the red barrels at Vons and Stater Bros. supermarkets. You can also donate online at sandiegofoodbank.org.