For the past year and a half, Jeff Gordan and the Community Research Foundation (CRF) have been rescuing food and other essentials from retailers across San Diego County. With the help of Feeding San Diego, Jeff rescues items that would otherwise go to waste and gets them into the hands of those who need them most.
Jeff first connected with Feeding San Diego when he came across information regarding volunteering opportunities and signed up to receive his Food Handler training, “When I got my food handlers card, I talked to Feeding San Diego about our work at CRF and expressed how much we would benefit from large volumes of rescued food. Feeding San Diego connected me with managers at Target and Costco and I started picking up huge quantities of food and supplies, sometimes as much as 1,300 pounds!” Over the past ten months, Jeff has distributed over 60,000 pounds of food across the county.
Since the COIVID-19 pandemic struck, Jeff has gone above and beyond to extend help to San Diegans facing a severe shortage of food and essential supplies. “When COVID-19 hit, we didn’t know how it was going to affect the most vulnerable populations, those facing hunger and homelessness. I wanted to play my part to help prevent the spread of the virus so I started distributing PPE materials and masks to people. We also tried to make sure that people had food and water, especially produce and packaged foods that they could eat without having to cook. Even though toilet paper and other toiletries weren’t available at that time, I still managed to get good quality items through retail rescue and distribute them to those facing homelessness,” shared Jeff.
Every Tuesday and Thursday, Jeff picks up anywhere between 50 to 600 pounds of retail rescue items from a Target store in Bonita after finishing his day job at CRF. He then separates all the food into boxes, setting some aside for the CRF psychiatric facility. Jeff distributes the remaining boxes to other independent living facilities, sober living facilities, and to the homeless population living in downtown San Diego. On Fridays, he repeats this process with another Target in Mira Mesa. Jeff’s efforts have not only helped various living facilities save in the upwards of $500 a month in groceries, but they’ve also dramatically reduced CRF’s grocery bills across the county. “Anytime I show up with boxes of food for the homeless population, there is always someone that I don’t know willing to come up and help me. I’ve never faced any issues or felt threatened doing this work. Recipients are very grateful and always say, ‘God bless you’.”
Stressing on the significance of the partnership between CRF and Feeding San Diego, Jeff says, “Both our organizations have knowledge about vulnerable communities and their needs. Feeding San Diego has great connections with many retailers for food rescue and CRF has the expertise and capacity to reach out to these communities to try and meet their basics needs, it’s a good fit and has been an extremely valuable partnership.”
Before the drastic increase in need due to the pandemic, Jeff was providing food to many working-class people with help from Feeding San Diego. “While there are many programs out there to help the homeless population, there aren’t as many programs for people who are working but still need help. How often does someone walk up to you and say, here’s a free gallon of milk! That never happens because we have jobs. It’s nice to be able to walk up to a fire department and give them 400 pounds of cookies, cakes, meat, chicken, rice, pasta, and more. They are so grateful.”
When asked how others can join in the movement, Jeff says, “Contact Feeding San Diego! Complete your food handlers training and get your certificate. Then ask Feeding San Diego to connect you to their retail rescue network. You can even go to the distributions they organize throughout the community where you can pick up food for anyone who needs it.”
Thank you, Jeff, for your relentless efforts in keeping our community safe and healthy during these unprecedented times.
Originally published by Feeding San Diego: Source