In this video interview conducted by KPBS-TV, James Floros, the newly appointed president and CEO of the Jacobs & Cushman San Diego Food Bank, describes challenges in food banking.
Those curious about how food banks operate in hard times get some clues from Floros.
1. Federal and state cut-backs in food distribution programs (for example, food stamp programs, seniors programs, and emergency food assistance programs) remain a continuing threat.
2. The food bank depends on food drives, cash donations, food donations, and food purchases, including buys from federal USDA programs. Floros notes that those who would like to sponsor a food drive can can find out how at the organization’s website.
3. Applying for Cal-Fresh, the state food stamp program, can be very cumbersome for applicants, even those who are eligible. Prescreening applicants who have come to food distribution events streamlines the process. Those who are approved can now shop at grocery stores. Also, providing another place and opportunity for screening, alleviates some of the application-processing burden.
4. A prospective cut to the Cal-Fresh program looms, which could reduce support from $4.5 billion to $16 billion. “This is a horrific mistake .. we hope to make our representatives fully appreciate how widespread hunger is and how the face of hunger has changed,” Floros notes.
Despite San Digeo’s apparently healthy economy, some 350,000 people receive food at the San Diego Food Bank each month. Floros notes that employment numbers can be deceiving. Many people are under-employed and/or work multiple jobs. Large numbers of job seekers have given up looking for work. Some middle-class families who used to donate are now seeking the food bank services themselves.
Floros’ ambition is to make San Diego the model food bank in the country.