100,000 donation will fund CA Food Box program to fight childhood hunger / Public News Service

San Diego may seem like an affluent area, but the mountain communities in the eastern part of the county still struggle with hunger and poverty.

Now, a new $100,000 grant from Save the Children’s Innovation Lab will fund the development of a mailbox program with shelf-stable food for low-income rural families, starting next year.

Anahid Brakke, president and CEO of the San Diego Hunger Coalition, said the program has been a huge success in other communities.

“The parents said, ‘It’s like Christmas.’ The kids feel like it’s Christmas, you know, they get this box of food; you know, it’s for them,” explained Brakke. “It really helps complement the whole family.”

A team from the San Diego Hunger Coalition is at Baylor University in Waco, Texas this week to learn best practices from other communities already implementing the program. Funds will also be used to train community health navigators who can help people enroll in programs like CalFresh and WIC.

Esther Liew, lead food security projects associate at the nonprofit Save the Children, said mailing the boxes of food made more sense than asking families to travel long distances to pick them up.

“There is little public transport in rural communities, which means they have limited access to grocery stores and places where they can get fresh, nutritious food,” Liew pointed out. “That makes it very difficult to provide the food they need for their children and family.”

Hunger Coalition data showed that about 35% of children in the Mountain Empire region live in poverty, which is nearly triple the rate in the rest of San Diego County.

In a recent community food survey of local residents, nearly three-quarters said they would run out of food at some point in the last 30 days and could not afford to buy more.

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100,000 donation will fund CA Food Box program to fight childhood hunger / Public News Service

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