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San Diego food distribution centers, restaurants feeding locals for free

Posted at 4:32 PM, Mar 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-19 21:11:54-04

SAN DIEGO COUNTY (KGTV) -- With sudden layoffs and overcrowded grocery stores, the coronavirus is making it even more difficult for families to feed themselves. But many are stepping up to distribute food for free.

Three hundred sixty-five cars lined up with their trunks popped wide open, ready for bags of free food to be plopped in. Following their new drive-up food bank protocols, volunteers at the Community Through Hope (CTH) warehouse in Chula Vista made no direct contact with the families in line.

"We were able to provide so much nutrition in his very safe environment and get it out quickly," Rosey Vasquez, Executive Director of CTH, said.

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So quickly, they ran out of food in an hour and a half.

It was the same story at the Brother Benno Foundation in Oceanside. Their Feeding San Diego distribution was supposed to last all day. But their warehouse cleared up after 150 cars rolled in, in just two hours.

Meanwhile, in the Gaslamp District in Downtown San Diego, the kitchen staff at Metl Bar and Restaurant are hard at work. They are not getting nearly as many orders with just take-home and deliveries. But the owners, Jenna and Randy Elskamp, did not want to lay off their staff. Their idea was to have them continue to make hot meals for newly unemployed restaurant workers.

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"We know so many of our friends are not prepared for this, do not have financial means to take care of themselves, and they're all very stressed out," Jenna Elskamp said. "And so giving back to our industry was where we want to help."

They have a couple of sponsors now. But the Elskamps have no idea if they could survive this in the long run. But as veterans in the restaurant industry, they said they know the hardships. That is why they set up a section of their website to offer free meals for anyone in the industry struggling to feed themselves.

"I feel like we are all on a sinking ship right now," Jenna said. "Instead of being the rats who are trying to climb up to the very top of the ship to save themselves, we want to be there at the bottom, trying to help everyone survive. Because we either make it out of this together or we don't. We're just trying to do our part."

RELATED: Feeding San Diego adding more pickup locations

Staff at San Diego's many food distribution centers said there is a limited supply. So to have a better chance of getting the food bags, arrive at the warehouses early.

For information on Feeding San Diego locations and times, click HERE.

For information on Community Through Hope distribution centers and times, click HERE.

If you are a recently laid off restaurant worker and would like to join the Metl Meal Program, click HERE.