SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — Just last year, Feeding San Diego distributed more than 40 million meals. The nationwide non-profit works to connect those facing hunger with meals they need.
One local family, in particular, says it's because of Feeding San Diego, that their lives changed for the better.
The moment you step into the Dagraedt household, the family of six seems like your everyday family.
"If you looked at someone like me and my children you would have had no idea," shares mother of five, Karlyn.
In 2020, her family went through a pandemic and divorce. Karlyn had been homeschooling her children.
Now she is their sole caretaker. "You feel like you failed and you feel like you are supposed to fix it all," she says. "And the truth is I needed to be there for my kids in that season."
The kids learned slowly, that a home-cooked meal was becoming a rarity.
"The food habits were not good because before we would be eating out every single meal," says 12-year-old Karter. "First of all it costs a lot and it is really unhealthy, and if we weren't it would be just little snacks throughout the day and not full meals."
An empty fridge is what Karlyn says was the turning point for her to seek help. She found Feeding San Diego through social media.
"I was like I wonder if I am allowed to go because we could use food."
Her children, like 14-year-old Kenley, were hesitant about the idea at first.
"I didn't want to go because it's embarrassing to have to get food from someone else," says Kenley.
But once they arrived at their first food distribution they found something different between Feeding San Diego and the other food banks.
The people in line were families just like theirs.
"That gave me comfort," Karlyn says. "That there are people all over just like me that need this help."
"The way it was done was really professional and it was just them trying to help which was really great," adds 16-year-old Korbin.
"Seeing other kids and families that seem like they are okay, but obviously people go through situations and don't look it," says Kenley. "To know that there are people out there that don't just judge from the outside is comforting."
The bonus was not just finding a safe space, but a place to provide good, quality food.
"This is actually good food and we made good dinners," Korbin says. "Like the food is actually good."
"And now we actually have a snack cabinet that we all love!" 9-year-old Kyla says.
Almost two years later, the Dagraedt kids are back to school and Karlyn has started a new job.
Kaleb, 17, says that having various home-cooked meals easily accessible to them provides him newfound energy.
"I would say just a good meal helped with that and today I am doing much much better. I am happier than I have been," says Kaleb.
"Made me a lot more productive and made me have a lot more energy," expresses Korbin. "It just made me happier."
The tight-knit bunch is now closer than ever before.
Karter adds it's thanks to a new kind of dinnertime.
"I would say we bonded a lot more because we actually sat and talked with each other for quite a while and it's just a lot nicer now," Karter says.
The Dagraedt's wanted to share their thanks to those who give of their time and money to be able to help put food on their table.
"Thank you for doing this," says Kyla. "You don't have to do this of course, but they chose to help."
"You are not just giving food, you are giving people hope," Karlyn says. "You are giving people encouragement. And to me that was the biggest part of it, to know that that was out there for me too."
Month of a Million Meals is sponsored by Feeding San Diego. To help your neighbors in need, you can donate now at 10News.com/mmm.