The program is made possible by a grant from The San Diego Foundation and funding support from San Diego Gas & Electric.
Thanks to a $100,000 grant, the O’side Kitchen Collaborative (OKC) has launched a COVID Response Program to help local residents struggling with food insecurity amid the pandemic, such as seniors, veterans, the homeless, and the immunocompromised.
The grant was provided by The San Diego Foundation COVID-19 Community Response Fund – in large part due to funding support from San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E). To date, SDG&E has donated $2 million to the Fund with plans to donate an additional million in 2021.
“One of the most impactful things we can do for our community during these challenging times is to support the most vulnerable populations and make sure their basic needs are met,” said Eugene “Mitch” Mitchell, SDG&E’s vice president of state governmental and external affairs. “OKC’s program not only does a great job nourishing those in need, it also helps reduce food waste.”
OKC started the COVID Response Program in March to help feed food-insecure families hit the hardest, and it’s making a huge impact. The grant will enable the program to run through December 2020, providing up to 1,500 nutritious, ready-to-eat meals a week.
The nonprofit works out of a zero-waste facility, the Green Oceanside Kitchen, which is owned by the City of Oceanside. The organization’s primary mission is to limit food waste, keeping it out of the landfill and distribute it to those in need. They work with local farms, gleaning organizations, restaurants and food businesses to buy or receive surplus food. From there, they create items like broth, pickles, food preserves, popsicles, jam, jelly, hot sauce, chutney, marinara, spices, and dry goods, anything to keep food on plates and out of the landfill.
“We saw a serious need in our community. With parents out of work and children staying home without access to free meal programs, many families face the challenge of having basic needs met,” said Vallie Gilley, executive director of OKC. “When you are struggling to make the rent and pay bills, food may be the last thing on your list.”
Since the program launched, the OKC has diverted over 200,000 pounds of edible food and provided over 270,000 meals and 21,280 produce and supplemental grocery boxes to those in need. The program also provides an employment opportunity for local restaurant workers who lost their jobs during the pandemic.
In the future, OKC hopes to expand to the program to connect with more farms that want to offload their surplus and tap into more communities that need help. In order to continue the program, they are looking for additional donations and/or corporate sponsorship opportunities and volunteers. For more information on about OKC and how to support the COVID Response Program, visit www.theokc.org or call 760-707-8108.