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Nonprofit splits with City of Chula Vista over COVID-19 funds

Posted at 5:03 PM, Nov 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-24 20:47:51-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — A nonprofit on a mission to feed the hungry is accusing the City of Chula Vista of using its name to pocket tens of thousands of dollars in COVID stimulus funds.

At the height of the coronavirus pandemic, Chula Vista nonprofit Community Through Hope was nothing short of overwhelmed.

Chief Executive Officer Rosy Vasquez says 600 to 1,000 drivers waited on a single day to get 65 to 75 pounds of fruits, vegetables, proteins, and grains loaded into the backs of their cars.

“Individuals would line up starting very early in the morning, wait an hour or so,” Vasquez said Wednesday.

Since 2018, the City of Chula Vista has paid Community Through Hope $30,000 annually for certain services -- a deal that ended this year. Still, when Vasquez saw the city list her nonprofit as a recipient for an additional $30,000 dollars in CARES Act funds, she got excited.

“We think we're going to get 60, which is wonderful because COVID-19 for a nonprofit, regardless of what your services were, was just a huge blow to anyone's economic status."

It turns out -- the city was allocating those $30,000 in the nonprofit's name to offset the cost of police traffic control during the food pantry pickups. In all, the city says it spent $135,000 on traffic control, which the stimulus funds will also reimburse.

“To think that we couldn't have benefited, that our clients couldn't have benefited from those dollars is a travesty," said Vasquez.

The city says it will not ask for a reimbursement. In a memo, it says it will continue to work with Community Through Hope and other nonprofits to collaborate and provide services, such as vaccines and support for food distribution services, when possible.

Vasquez says Community Through Hope’s deal with the city will not be renewed.