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'How am I gonna make it?' A portrait of food insecurity in San Diego

Feeding San Diego is providing produce and hope for people visiting their pop-up pantries
Posted at 6:26 PM, Sep 15, 2023

SAN DIEGO, Calif. (KGTV) — As thousands of San Diegans continue to face food insecurity, one small produce pantry in Ocean Beach is making a big difference.

“I was asking God… how am I gonna make it? And I showed up in the parking lot… and there was food. And I was blown away,” said Gwen Thompson.

Thompson is just one of dozens of people who showed up to receive a bag of fresh produce from Feeding San Diego’s pop-up food pantry in front of the YMCA. The pantry happens twice a month.

“To not know where my next meal is going to come from… has been very hard. Because I’ve been able to provide for myself most of my life,” Thompson said tearfully. “But just the circumstances… it created a situation where I wasn’t able to.”

“It’s really important to hear stories like Gwen’s because it humanizes the problem,” said Carissa Casares from Feeding San Diego.

Casares says their produce pantry program has grown in just one year, from five sites to 19 sites across the county as more families struggle to make ends meet.

“We know for some people coming here is a low point, so why make the experience of getting the help another low point?” said Casares.

Casares says they intentionally set up the pantry to feel less like a food distribution and more like a farmers market to serve people with dignity and leave them with a little more food and a little more hope.

“To hear Gwen talk about how she likes coming here… it’s really incredible. Hopefully she walks away feeling valued and like she has what she needs to go on," she says.