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Posted on: May 13, 2020

Poway Groups Rise to Challenge of Keeping Local Families Fed

volunteers collecting food donations

From empty shelves in the early days of the stay at home order, to the financial strain of jobs being lost, keeping food on the table has been an ongoing challenge for families during this pandemic. While there are many regional resources, here in Poway we are fortunate to have to local organizations working overtime assist to our neighbors in need.

The Community Food Connection (TCFC) distributes food boxes three nights a week at Trinity Church in Poway. Over the past year the all-volunteer food pantry jumped from serving approximately 40 families a night to 90 families a night. And that number has skyrocketed even more since the public health crisis began.

“In the last month we increased our output almost 300 percent,” said TCFC board member Ellen Starr. “We are now serving on average 240-280 families a night and up to 370 and 475 on certain nights!”

In order to meet the escalating needs, the TCFC has increased its partnerships with regional food banks, worked with wholesale supplier Sysco Foods to obtain excess inventory, added community food drives for non-perishable goods and received backyard produce donations from community members.

TCFC isn’t the only Poway-based organization helping families in our community. Founded by Poway business owner Phil Harris, the Friends and Family Community Connection (FFCC) distributes nonperishable foods and fresh produce it collects through food drives, gathers from school and home gardens, and “rescues” from grocery stores and more.

FFCC says that while referrals for assistance more than doubled (close to 1750 families in April), access to food donations became more challenging.

“We started Front Porch Food Drives out of necessity to fill a very sparse food pantry,” said Tina Socha, program coordinator for FFCC. “Access to food donations was lost from school and church food drives that were planned before COVID-19 closures in March; but hunger wasn’t cancelled.”

FFCC used Nextdoor to recruit volunteers to host a front porch food drive box, so that neighbors could drop off food donations without having to drive far from home. The idea took root and flourished: what started with just a handful of front porch box locations has grown to more than 40.

How to Help

The Community Food Connection: Monetary donations needed for supplies, as well as to purchase food. Other donations needed include non-perishable goods, backyard produce and fruit, excess supplies from restaurants. Volunteer opportunities are available and community partners are needed for food drives. thecommunityfoodconnection.weebly.com, eestarr@gmail.com

Friends and Family Communication Connection: Monetary donations, in-kind donations such as warehouse space (see website for information) or food donations. www.ffccsd.org

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