For many in San Diego, making ends meet is a daily challenge. This is especially true for our community’s most vulnerable: struggling families, older adults, people experiencing homelessness and undocumented immigrants. And this hardship has been even further compounded by the COVID-19 crisis. Over 102 years, Jewish Family Service of San Diego has seen numerous community crises. Through each emergency, they have remained committed to meeting San Diego’s ever-changing needs, assisting people of all faiths, backgrounds and ages.
As soon as the pandemic hit, they adapted, revised and expanded their services to focus on what was needed most:
No-Touch, Drive-Thru Daily Food Distribution
Open to all San Diegans in critical need every weekday, this no-touch distribution provides fresh produce, dried and canned goods, pantry staples and hygiene items. On average, more than 650 people are served through this distribution every week.
COVID-19 has hit older adults the hardest – not only in terms of risk of infection, but also because of the increase in health risks associated with social isolation. JFS’s on-site Loonin Family Kitchen has more than quadrupled its production of meals each day. In total from March 23 through June 7, their team of volunteer drivers have delivered upwards of 280,000 freshly-cooked and shelf-stable meals to older adults at their homes.
They are also dedicated to helping older adults stay mentally stimulated and connected during quarantine, with recorded videos of exercises, weekly Zoom tea parties and personal phone calls from case managers. Even as San Diego continues to reopen, older adults must remain vigilant and stay at home, so these services remain critical.
Safe Parking Program
Already widely used pre-pandemic, Jewish Family Service’s Safe Parking Program lots – three in San Diego and one in Encinitas – offer a safe place for people who live out of their vehicles to stay and sleep. In response to COVID-19, they expanded their hours of service to 24/7 at two lots during the height of the pandemic, with one lot moved to a larger location to hold more vehicles as well. With an average of 265 participants each night, the Safe Parking Program has provided critical resources, including three meals per day, showers and WiFi access.
Disaster Relief Assistance for Immigrants
JFS is the State of California’s partner for the Disaster Relief Assistance for Immigrants program in San Diego and Imperial Counties. Undocumented individuals are disproportionally impacted by today’s health crisis, as they are ineligible for unemployment benefits or other disaster relief. Through this program, they are distributing a total of $5 million to 10,000 undocumented immigrants.
At JFS, they believe in “Moving Forward Together” – which is what they intend to do through this crisis and beyond. Jewish Family Service’s Emergency Response Fund was established to assist with some of these needs during and following the COVID-19 pandemic, including increased provision of home-delivered meals and free groceries, counseling, and financial assistance with rent, medical and other expenses.
From response to recovery, JFS will be there for our neighbors and offer much needed relief and vital necessities. Together, we will make it through this.
To find help or support their efforts, please visit www.jfssd.org.