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
One doctor in Ocean Beach is ensuring the success of low-income students with vision problems by providing them with free optometrist services.
Dr. Eli-Ben-Moshe believes that seeing well is vital for students to succeed in the classroom and that no student who can’t afford vision care should go without at Ocean Beach Elementary School.
His Newport Avenue Optometry practice has been a staple of the community for 50 years and hundreds of Ocean Beach residents have benefited from his care. He is also a father and this is part of the story for his empathy as well as his proximity to the elementary school.
For the past 10 years, the doctor has worked with school staff on Sunset Cliffs Boulevard to provide children with the tools to improve their vision.
Blurry vision can often trigger behavior problems in the classroom and at home. Children with trouble seeing can be frustrated, start failing classes, and teachers or counselors may need to intervene. Many parents don’t see or understand the problems are due to their child’s inability to see properly.
Ben-Moshe’s aim is to provide assistance to children who slip through the cracks. They are from families who lack health insurance with vision care or who simply cannot afford it.
There are 445 children enrolled in Ocean Beach Elementary school and its state pre-school. Every year, each child has a vision screening conducted by the part-time school nurse and a health technician. This has been extremely advantageous because those students who would otherwise fall through the cracks are identified if their vision is impaired.
Those children in need are then escorted by a school staff member for their exam from Ben-Moshe and sometimes parents will even attend.
They are given a complete eye exam so that any vision challenges are easily detected. This also includes ensuring their eye health and development are normal. Children are able to choose their own eyeglasses and they are often made right on the premises and they are able to head back to school with their new glasses.
Ben-Moshe has seen firsthand the transformation his help creates in children. After one child put on his glasses and looked around he was amazed at how much better he could see, Ben-Moshe said.
The doctor also said he doesn’t forget their smiles and the personal satisfaction of helping children see properly.
Many parents of those same children come back to the doctor to thank him and report that their children are reading for pleasure when before they would put books down because they were experiencing headaches.
Principal Marco Drapeau of Ocean Beach Elementary has seen the significant benefit that Ben-Moshe’s optometry services provide to the students at his school and he values it.
He said it has made a big impact on a great many students and their families who are disadvantaged or low income. Some simply do not have access to health insurance or financial liquidity to provide vision care. The children would be at a disadvantage much longer if it were not for the help of Ben-Moshe.