Families Wait Hours in Downpour for Donations From SD Food Bank in South Bay

Friday’s drive-thru donation event included essential items like toilet paper and canned food for San Diego families in need; the donations were wiped out in less than two hours

NBCUniversal, Inc.

Cars lined up for hours Friday morning – in the pouring rain – in San Diego’s South Bay for a chance to receive donations of essential items from the San Diego Food Bank in another drive-thru-style set-up.

The event was geared toward local families in need and senior citizens impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. The guidelines for those receiving the donations included a maximum income of $60,000 per family of four. Hundreds of families lined up as early as 4 a.m. at Southwestern College – five hours before the event – patiently waiting for a chance to get an emergency supply of food, toilet paper and other household essentials.

The line of cars snaked through Southwestern College, stretching for miles, all the way down East H Street and to Interstate 805. Volunteers – soaked by the storm pummeling San Diego County and wearing face masks – loaded trunks of cars with 25-pound bags of donations that included staples like milk, peanut butter, cereal, fresh fruit, vegetables, and baby wipes.

In less than two hours, the donations were wiped out.

Police officers helping to direct the flow of traffic at the drive-thru donation event had to turn some people away, telling them the heartbreaking news that the food was gone.

The event was organized by the San Diego Food Bank in partnership with the city of Chula Vista and came at a time when many families are struggling to put food on the table due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

People receiving the donations were grateful, including National City resident Maria Torres.

“It’s a long wait, but we needed some groceries,” she told NBC 7. “I don’t like it; it’s sad to be here.”

In all, the “contactless” drive-thru operation served 1,000 cars. To follow social distancing guidelines, people receiving the donations kept their windows rolled up. No one was allowed to walk up to the site.

San Diego resident Ana Ajca was one of the lucky ones who was able to receive a donation bag. She told NBC 7 she planned to divide up the contents of the bag among relatives who couldn’t make it to the drive-thru.

“Share,” Ajca said. “Share whatever we’re going to get today; that’s what we’re trying to do to survive this hard time.”

“We are so thankful for the food bank,” she added. “And everyone who is helping in this weather; it’s cold and they’re doing their best and we’re so thankful for that.”

To donate to the San Diego Food Bank or learn about ways to get help for your family, click here.

Pitching in During the Pandemic: Stories of San Diegans Doing Good: Read more stories about San Diegans finding creative ways to lend support. Have you heard about a story we should share? Let us know

Contact Us