It happened again on February 18th! It was a Friday. The telephone rang. It was a refugee who had used our services in the past and knew where to turn for help.
"Did you know there is a family in our block of apartments that has no food for the weekend................?"
A conversation beginning this way frequently occurs. When it does, a Network volunteer or staff member goes out that day with food to visit and to assess other needs, which are reported to the staff for further attention. This is one of the ways that newly arrived refugees get referred to the Network.
We deliver over 1,600 lbs of food per week to families who have no car, live far from shops and markets, and are struggling to make ends meet. Some need short term help when jobs are lost, sickness strikes, or there is a gap of several weeks between applications being filed for food stamps, and authorizations being received. Others have complications in their lives and may need food deliveries for a longer period.
The Network drivers and a staff member or volunteer collect food from the San Diego Food Bank or Feeding America. Although the cost of the food is relatively small, we must also take into account the costs of the time of the drivers and other staff,as they select and deliver the food, and the gas for two of our donated vehicles. To make the process as efficient as possible we make two deliveries a week, one to Karen, Karenni, Chin, Shan and Butanese refugees on Tuesday, and one to Sudanese and other refugees on Thursday. This allows us to select as balanced a diet as is available, while at the same time taking into account the preferences of the Asian and the African refugees. When a special local fruit or vegetable is available we also add it to the selection, and deliver it with directions on how to prepare it and its food value.
The availability of milk, eggs, fresh fruit and vegetables, and occasionally a chicken, makes a huge difference in the nutrition of those adapting to new foods and learning how to stretch meager resources and makes both children and adults more ready to do well at school and in preparing for employment.
Thanks to your generous donations, this food service has been expanding and we are seeking more volunteers to help meet the increasing requests for this vital part of the assistance we provide. Your help makes a great difference in many lives.