15 Years of Feeding San Diego


Local Feeding America affiliate has distributed over 300 million meals since its founding in 2007

A lot has happened over 15 years of Feeding San Diego, but the mission of the hunger relief organization remains the same: to end hunger through food rescue. Founded by Gwendolyn Sontheim, Feeding San Diego’s first distribution was held on October 9, 2007 in the parking lot at San Diego Rescue Mission. Several weeks later, San Diego County suffered from disastrous firestorms that displaced hundreds of thousands of individuals. In the first week of the fire with only two employees, Feeding San Diego secured and delivered 515,000 pounds of emergency supplies, including food, water and other grocery items, to evacuees, firefighters and volunteers. From the start, the organization has been ready to spring into action whatever the crisis may be, from wildfire to a global pandemic.

Now led by CEO Dan Shea, the hunger relief and food rescue organization has grown from two employees to over 65 and distributes an average of 40.3 million meals annually. Hunger was thrust into the forefront of public awareness during the pandemic and Feeding San Diego continues to support the many San Diegans affected by the after effects: the highest inflation of the past 40 years, record-high gas prices, global unrest and a volatile economy. With the incredible support of the community during the first year of the pandemic, the non-profit is focused on meeting its ambitious goals.

This year, Feeding San Diego is dedicated to establishing and growing its new Produce Pantry Program to provide even more fresh produce to the community, expanding its School Pantry Program, which was upended by the pandemic, its food rescue program in response to Senate Bill 1383, which mandates certain businesses donate excess food to hunger relief organizations like Feeding San Diego, and continuing its Together Tour large-scale food distributions, which have provided food to over 287,000 San Diegans since the initiative started in February 2021. To look to the future, the organization is celebrating its past.

“I founded Feeding San Diego because I believe that access to nutritious food is a basic human right. Looking back on 15 years of service to the community, it is humbling to be a part of this organization that provides what we now know to be an essential service and touches so many lives in the process,” Founder and Board Chair Gwendolyn Sontheim shares with GB Magazine.

None of this work would be possible without the stakeholders that make the mission possible: donors, volunteers, the board of directors, staff, food donors and community and agency partners. The time is now to get involved.


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Esteban Villanueva