The Worst Brings Out the Best in San Diegans

A global pandemic could create more people with food insecurities

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The rain was falling.

Basketball, baseball, hockey, and soccer just postponed their seasons.

Some colleges told their students to stay home and take classes online.

Yet, Patie Bartow stood in line at the grocery store with two carts full of food. Not for her. The food was for the Jag Kitchen & Food Pantry at Southwestern College in Chula Vista.

We’ve had more people just calling to say, ‘What can I do in a time of crisis?'

Vince Hall, Feeding San Diego

“We’re hoping that this will get them through the next couple of weeks as our campus will be closed,” Bartow said as she pushed the carts through the rain to her truck. “You know it makes me feel good knowing that our students will be taken care of.”

Like so many colleges and universities, Southwestern College is taking precautions in light of the coronavirus and switching over to on-line classes.

Bartow said even though the campus will be closed, there are still too many students who struggle to make ends meet and will need a free meal. The pandemic may make it worse.

“We’re going to see an increase in food insecurity across our county,” said Vince Hall, CEO of Feeding San Diego.

Hall said one in eight in San Diego County go hungry every day.  Those statistics could get worse as the spread of the virus cancels events and travel, forcing thousands to lose work and money.

“It is something that we have planned for. It is something we have talked about. It is something we have considered,” said Hall. “The good news is that the people of San Diego rise to a crisis like this like no other community.”

A spokeswoman added any canceled catered events can donate their prepared food to Feeding San Diego.

Hall said Feeding San Diego employees will continue working to collect food donations and distribute them to those who need it most.

“We’ve had more people just calling to say, ‘What can I do in a time of crisis?’” he added.

Just like Patie Bartow, the Southwestern College administrator delivered her carts to the Jag Kitchen Food Pantry, which she helped create four years ago.

Students helped her unload the food and deliver it to the pantry, which will remain open when the campus closes.

“Just because we close or shut down, we don’t shut them out.”

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