Mobile Food Pantry Program Partners with SDG&E®

In rural parts of East County, families facing food insecurity must travel far distances to access grocery stores with nutritious foods such as fresh produce. Areas lacking supermarkets and nutritious food are called ‘food deserts’ by those in the food banking sector. Food deserts are defined as geographic areas where residents have limited or no convenient options for securing affordable and healthy foods — especially fresh fruits and vegetables.

In order to meet the significant unmet need for healthy, fresh food among those facing food insecurity in rural East County, the San Diego Food Bank started its Mobile Food Pantry Program with support from community partners, including San Diego Gas & Electric® and the Southern Indian Health Council (SIHC).

Since its start, the Food Bank’s Mobile Food Pantry Program has distributed nearly 79,000 pounds of fresh produce, meal kits and bread, as well as diapers and period products, to East County residents in need, many of whom live in hard-to-reach areas or are victims of natural disasters and Public Safety Power Shutoffs.

“In the Mountain Empire communities, we have no food resources,” said Deb Gonzalez, a San Diego Food Bank client. “This truck is such a blessing in the community, especially with the fresh produce and breads since they are so rare here.”

“Most of the time, we do not even have water,” said Ann Sakamoto, another East County resident, while speaking with a Food Bank staff member. “For the Food Bank team to come out every month with fresh produce… that is a huge blessing. My grandkids need healthy food, and [the Food Bank] is giving them just that,” continues Anna.

The Mobile Food Pantry Program is a resource for individuals and families facing food insecurity in rural and remote communities, as well as those affected by Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) events due to wildfires or other natural disasters.

In addition to conducting regular food distributions throughout San Diego County, the Food Bank’s Mobile Food Pantry Program is helping those affected by PSPS events by providing access to emergency food relief at conveniently located sites in San Diego County’s most fire prone areas. Importantly, the Mobile Food Pantry provides critical services following PSPS events, helping families restock their refrigerators and pantries with much-needed food and water thanks to critical support provided to the Food Bank by SDG&E®.

The Food Bank’s Mobile Food Pantry operates at several East County locations, including Campo, Boulevard and Jamul. The Mobile Food Pantry has served more than 850 families since its inception through a partnership between the San Diego Food Bank, SDG&E and SIHC.

The San Diego Food Bank’s Vice President of Operations, Vanessa Ruiz, said, “SDG&E generously provided the Food Bank with funding to purchase a brand-new Mobile Food Pantry truck, thus enabling our team to expand our services, and SIHC helped us identify distribution sites in the rural parts of the county. Thanks to partnerships like these, we are able to help families throughout San Diego County, including families living in food deserts in remote areas with limited access to healthy food.”

To learn more about the San Diego Food Bank’s critical hunger-relief programs, visit www.SanDiegoFoodBank.org.