The Saint Brigid Parish is breaking new ground as the first parish to volunteer for a program to feed low-income families in Pacific Beach.
The parish is running the food distribution program for the San Diego Food Bank in collaboration with Catholic Charities. Once a month, starting on February 28, and every fourth Friday thereafter, the parish will issue free commodities.
Catholic Charities identified a total of 21 parishes throughout the San Diego region as possible distribution points and St Brigid’s Parish immediately leaped at the opportunity. Catholic Charities is seeking seven additional parishes to join the movement by the end of 2020, the CEO of Catholic Charities Diocese of San Diego, Appaswamy “Vino” Pajanor, stated.
The timing of the invitation to volunteer and the desire of the parish to be more visible in the local community of Pacific Beach was perfect. The parish had been actively seeking opportunities to serve the community. Saint Brigid Pastor Father Steve Callahan said the parish was thrilled to partner with Catholic Charities.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has an initiative called the Emergency Food Assistance Program, which distributes food worth about a half-billion dollars every year to food banks through the country, Callahan said.
Catholic Charities is one among thousands of organizations across the country that have been selected as a food bank to distribute food directly to families to ensure they can supplement their diet with healthy foods.
The packages consist of canned goods as well as dry grains and proteins that include canned or frozen meat as well as other healthy food items. Households are deemed eligible bases on the family unit size and income and they receive one package per month.
Saint Brigid’s distributes from 9.30 am to 11.30 am.
Though Saint Brigid’s Parish joined the task of food distribution this year, Catholic Charities has been doing so since 2018. They first launched their program in downtown San Diego and more than 80 people in need came on that first day to collect a food package. The gathering consisted of youth, the elderly, and others who needed food. Now, the charity serves almost 300 people per month in less the two hours.
Catholic Charities is a food distribution center, but Pajanor also sees it as an opportunity to connect with people, speaking with them to glean their needs and link them to another programming the charity and its partners have to offer. He also said food recipients will benefit from accessing food a shorter distance from their homes and they can find pick up locations online.
Their approach may not be perfect at the moment, but Catholic Charities is continuously learning and adapting to meet the needs of the community, Pajanor said.
Saint Brigid Parish as well as other organization in Pacific Beach are performing their work with optimism and conducting significant outreach to tell the community about the food distribution resource available to them said Saint Brigid Parish liaison, Lee Hulburt.
There are a lot of people who are floundering without food and the U.S. has a great deal of surplus that can benefit families, Hulburt said.
The recipients of food distribution must be residents of San Diego County and meet guidelines for federal income. People who are eligible can call 211 or the San Diego Food Bank at 858-527-1419