Fighting Hunger with Feeding America San Diego

Original Post

In October, the Oceanhouse Media team celebrated the end of our third quarter with a team-building challenge at the UCSD Ropes Course in La Jolla, CA. We unanimously walked away from the experience feeling happy, inspired, and most importantly, trusting of one another as a unified team. For the end of quarter four, we opted to celebrate by giving back to our community and making a difference in the lives of others. Healthy and nutritious food is important to all of us at Oceanhouse Media, so we decided to volunteer as a team at Feeding America San Diego (FASD), the largest hunger-relief organization in the county.

We arrived at the FASD distribution center- a 50,000 square foot warehouse in Sorrento Valley- in the morning where we were greeted by our very friendly and enthusiastic volunteer coordinator Theresa, who was fittingly wearing a t-shirt that said “I believe in helping others”. Before getting started, she shared some striking statistics with us that helped put the day’s work into perspective:

-15% of the people in San Diego County are food insecure, meaning they do not always know where their next meal will come from.
-1 in 4 children in San Diego are at risk of hunger.
-Nearly half the people served by FASD are under the age of 18.
-FASD feeds 73,000 children, families and seniors in need each week.

FASD seeks to alleviate hunger in the county by distributing nutritious food items directly into the hands of local students and their families. Because families with a limited budget are often forced to buy cheap, unhealthy food that increases their chances of developing long-term health problems (diabetes, obesity and heart disease), FASD is committed to providing fresh, healthy food by partnering with more than 160 local grocery stores and retailers to claim an average of 800,000 pounds of food each month- this also helps eliminate food waste because 60% of food that would have been thrown away is still edible, nutritious, and delicious!

We helped out with the School Pantry program, which provides nutritious food for low-income students and their families to take home. This program alone serves more than 1,500 children and families in San Diego each month! Our task was to glean (a fancy word for “sort”) through massive boxes of fruits and vegetables to discard any items  at the end of their shelf life. After Theresa explained the process, we split into two groups and got to work!

“It is staggering to know that 1 in 4 children in San Diego are not sure where their next meal will come from. Volunteering at Feeding America was simple, easy and very rewarding.” – Greg U.

The “lucky” group started by gleaning a box of oranges, followed by fresh, organic broccoli that looked quite appetizing. The “not-so-lucky” group got to sort through slightly suspicious potato boxes- proving that it is possible to bond while elbow-deep in taters!

For the next few hours we worked in our teams to glean 4,000 pounds of fresh produce for distribution to students through the School Pantry program. The best part was we had a blast doing it!

“It was great to work as a team with OM members! I always enjoy offering my time to help those in need, but working together to do so felt even more rewarding.” – Haley O.

The volume of food the FASD sorts and distributes on a daily basis is mind-boggling- they even had 1,400 pound box of carrots (that’s A LOT of carrots)! FASD depends solely on philanthropic and community support for its mission, so volunteers are essential in making sure those in need have access to quality food. We especially enjoyed sharing the warehouse with a group of young school children who were oh-so carefully bagging sweet potatoes near our station!

“Feeding America has created a great opportunity for community members to get involved and help people receive vital fruits and vegetables. As a member of the Oceanhouse team, I am glad we all got a chance to contribute to their high demand of food packaging needs.” – Cyrus K.

Working together in a new environment allowed us to hone our communication skills and come together as a group- especially for fellow employees who do not work with each other regularly in the office. Stepping away from the office and doing something for the greater good in our community was an easy, uplifting way to raise all our spirits. Overall, volunteering at FASD was an incredible experience and many of us plan to return soon!

“I found our volunteer time with Feeding America to be a rewarding and educational experience. We had the opportunity to learn just how staggering a problem hunger is in San Diego and how many families and children are unsure as to where there next meal is coming from. Taking the time to give back with the team really feels good and I would love to volunteer with Feeding America again in the future.” – John C.

Feeing America is the nation’s leading domestic hunger-relief and charity, and it is easy for you to join their fight to end hunger. Here’s how you can help:

-Volunteer: Get your family, school or office together for a fun and rewarding experience that benefits your local community. Find a list of Feeding America volunteer opportunities near you here.

-Donate Funds: Monthly donations, meal donations, virtual food drives and more- there are so many ways for you to donate your funds so that others don’t go hungry. Every dollar you donate helps provide 8 meals to families in need! Learn more here.

-Donate Food: Large and small food donations from companies can make a significant impact. Reach out to your local Feeding America representative to find out how you can donate food or even organize a food drive.

-Advocate: Raise awareness of hunger in your community and spread the word of the available resources and solutions. You can also get involved with public policy to promote supporting legislative change. Learn more here.

-Educate: Teach your kids about hunger in your community and encourage them to help those in need. It’s never too early to teach your kids how to give, and to show them that helping others can be fun!

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