Making the Holidays Brighter for San Diegans in Need

For most, the holiday season is a time for celebrating with family and enjoying festive traditions. This year, the landscape looks a lot different for many San Diegans. Persistent inflation means higher costs, from necessities like food and gas to the luxuries that make the season bright. Many families are facing difficult choices every day.

One such family is Melissa and her two daughters, 16-year-old McKenzie and 6-year-old Zoey. As a single mom, Melissa is familiar with dealing with difficult situations. She has been through a lot this year alone: the whole family got COVID, she experienced financial setbacks after missing work when the family was sick, and now the worst of all: a cancer diagnosis. These challenges are in addition to being a survivor of an abusive relationship. Through it all, Melissa puts her children first.

“There have been times, in the past, where I have chosen not to eat so that Zoey can eat and make sure she was full. As long as she was full and went to bed and her stomach was full, that was fine. I could eat tomorrow,” she shares. With everything she has been through, Melissa remains a fighter, determined to ensure her family has what they need. She is no stranger to the impossible choices affecting many in our community.

“Oftentimes, I will buy food instead of paying a bill and just let it be late. It is not ideal, but I have done it. It is tough when there is not enough, and you have to make the decisions,” she tells GB Magazine. “With gas going up, obviously you need gas to go to work, to take the kids to school, to go to the grocery store and doctor’s appointments. The next thing is you have to eat. Everything else, you just kind of make it work.”

Melissa learned about Feeding San Diego’s Together Tour drive-through food distribution at Southwestern College through her victim advocate. She has attended a handful of times to receive fresh produce, pantry staples and frozen proteins. To her and her family, the ability to quickly drive through to access no-cost groceries makes a massive difference in their lives. “Leaving the Feeding San Diego events, it is like a weight lifted off your shoulders and the feeling of ‘Today is going to be a good day,’” Melissa gleamed.

As global supply chain issues and inflation continues to affect us all, Feeding San Diego works to provide the nutrition and support families need to not just survive, but thrive. Last year, the organization distributed more than 35 million meals, and nearly 70% was food that was rescued from grocery stores, wholesalers, distributors, retailers and farms. To achieve this, they rely on the generosity of the community. This holiday season, they are asking us all to give hope and share joy with families in need.

To learn more about how you can support families like Melissa’s this holiday season, visit www.feedingsandiego.org/give-hope-share-joy.