Grossmont Healthcare District continues food assistance support to East County residents

Photo Credit: San Diego Food Bank

The Grossmont Healthcare District (GHD) is continuing its support of community organizations working to address hunger and food insecurity among residents in the East County Region with recent grants totaling $85,500 to three food distribution nonprofits, including Meals on Wheels, Jewish Family Service, and the Jacobs & Cushman San Diego Food Bank.

“We want to connect more of our neighbors to a lifeline of community resources so they can build and sustain healthy and well-nourished lives,” said Michael Emerson, GHD board president. “The correlation between good nutrition and good health is well documented. Assisting our East County residents with access to basic nutrition can alleviate food insecurity and lower the frequency and duration of hospital visits and other healthcare issues. We’re proud to support the efforts of these food assistance community organizations that help reduce economic and food insecurity and help build better lives through access to healthy food.”

The GHD board recently approved a $27,500 grant to Meals on Wheels San Diego County to help purchase a transit van for the delivery of meals to seniors in the Grossmont Healthcare District. The new van will be used to transport fresh meals to volunteer distribution sites for delivery of services to 384 low-income homebound seniors, ages 60 and older. Meals on Wheels San Diego County delivers up to two fresh meals a day for every day of the week, including holidays, accompanied by daily safety checks and in-home social visits to seniors who are homebound due to age, illness or disability. As a result of the new van, Meals on Wheels San Diego County officials said more than 97,392 meals will be delivered annually. Meal services will be managed by its East County Service Center, 131 Chambers St., El Cajon.

“Undernourishment and malnutrition in seniors can have many negative impacts on a senior’s health and can substantially increase the likelihood of illness,” said Debbie Case, president/CEO, Meals on Wheels San Diego County. “We are grateful for the support from the Grossmont Healthcare District as we serve seniors who are no longer mobile and improve their overall quality of life as they age at home

In addition, the GHD board recently approved a $40,000 grant to Jewish Family Service of San Diego (JFS) to support for one of its food assistance programs. The GHD grant will help cover expenses for the JFS Foodmobile program that delivers nutritious meals to homebound seniors and adults with disabilities who live in the GHD’s service district. JFS officials said the GHD grant will provide more than 11,000 meals over a year’s time.

GHD has supported JFS with grants since 1998. The JFS Foodmobile program provides ongoing nutrition service to isolated, indigent, frail and vulnerable seniors and other homebound adults with disabilities who struggle to access basic nutrition.

Sasha Escue, director of nutrition services with JFS, said home-delivered meals cost an average of $2,500 per individual for a full year. “We’re grateful for the support of the Grossmont Healthcare District because it’s partnerships like these that help our older adult clients move forward,” said Escue. “Homebound older adults constitute a largely invisible and particularly vulnerable segment of society. Jewish Family Service is eager to help all San Diegans, regardless of faith or ethnic background, and help transform our clients’ lives.”

Escue said that social workers from Sharp Grossmont Hospital and Sharp Hospice often contact JFS to request Foodmobile service for newly discharged, disabled and elderly patients. In many cases, these patients have limited resources and little or no family or other support at home.

In addition, the GHD board recently approved an $18,000 grant to the Jacobs & Cushman San Diego Food Bank. The grant will fund distribution of fresh fruits and vegetables at Heaven’s Windows, a San Diego Food Bank partner distribution site in Spring Valley. The GHD grant will provide food to about 210 families per month.

“Hunger is everywhere. Census data says that one in seven individuals in East County are living in poverty,” said James Floros, president/CEO, San Diego Food Bank. “We’re grateful for the support from the Grossmont Healthcare District, which will help provide food relief to families who face the crushing stress of deciding between paying rent and buying groceries. This grant will help bridge the gap between limited incomes and healthy grocery options. Our vision is to end hunger in San Diego County.

Floros said the GHD grant will be matched by another nonprofit, Price Philanthropies, therefore doubling the amount of fresh produce distributed at Heaven’s Windows. Heaven’s Windows is one of the largest San Diego Food Bank partner distribution sites in the East County, providing 2,000 bags of food and serving more than 1,500 families a month.

Heaven’s Windows has been a member of the San Diego County’s Live Well San Diego initiative since 2015. The goal of Live Well San Diego is to empower residents to take positive actions for their own health, safety and well being through community involvement. GHD became a Live Well San Diego partner in 2016.