Donated food is supposed to be given away. But workers at an east county senior center are accused of selling it for profit. Tony Shin shows us both sides of this story, and also the people who are caught in the middle.
Donated food is supposed to be given away, but workers at an east county senior center are accused of selling it for profit.
The non-profit organization recently stopped shipments to the center after getting calls from concerned citizens.
"You can't ever sell or barter the food, it has to be distributed to those in need," said Jennifer Gilmore of Feeding America San Diego.
Gilmore said an investigation revealed evidence that food was being sold.
"We have product that we can trace the lot numbers on, and determine that they came through our national donors,"Gilmore told NBCSanDiego Monday.
The program director at the Ramona center called the accusations outrageous. "All I can say is that they're not true,"said Haley Palmbach.
She has worked at the food center for 25 years and believes the accusations are coming from disgruntled former employees.
"They're really hurting Ramona and the clients that need it the most, and it's really sad to have somebody with that type of attitude," Palmbach said.
Seniors who depend on the Ramona center are wondering if the food and supplies will eventually run out and they'll be forced to look elsewhere.
"I can't go down the hill all the time. I'm 80 years old," said Ramona resident Shirlee Muffly. "A lot of my friends don't even drive."
Palmbach is appealing the decision by Feeding America. The San Diego Food Bank has also ended it's relationship with the Ramona center.
Other organizations are stepping in to help fill the void, but Palmbach says her center needs more donors.
Gilmore said there are at least two other places where seniors can get free food and supplies including the In His Steps recovery program and the Ramona Food and Clothes Closet.