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CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8 | cbs8.com

San Diego food banks expected to receive federal stimulus help

Thousands of San Diegans rely on local food banks and as the "giving season" ends, the stimulus is perfect timing.

SAN DIEGO — Local food banks are in line to receive federal stimulus help in the latest package.

In San Diego, there are long lines at food drives and the need is doubling at some food banks.

The San Diego Food Bank says historically donations plummet in January, so this stimulus is coming at a perfect time.

“Typically, we do see that come January, our donations drop up to 80 percent sometimes. And so we cannot afford to have a drop this year with COVID,” said Vanessa Ruiz, San Food Bank V.P. of Operations.

The face of hunger dramatically changed during the pandemic from homeless and the working poor to now including restaurant and tourism workers.

“Every year the Food Bank would spend about a million dollars on food. The rest was donated. This year just since March, the food bank has spent over ten million dollars on food. That’s insane and we know that we are going to have to buy more in the coming year,” said Ruiz.

At the San Diego Food Bank, it went from feeding 350,000 people a month pre-COVID-19 to now more than 600,000 people a month.

Feeding San Diego says 40 percent of those they serve need food assistance for the first time.

“We're seeing a 50 percent increase in need for food assistance across San Diego County. And that's a conservative estimate,” said Dana Williams, Feeding San Diego, Director of Marketing.

The need is so great, $400 million was originally approved for food banks across the nation in the federal stimulus package but since the back and forth on Capitol Hill it’s unclear how much our local food banks will actually receive. San Diego Food Bank suspects some of it will help those on SNAP, formally known as food stamps.

In the past, they've received assistance for equipment at its distribution facilities.

“We're hoping that with this additional stimulus package, the San Diego Food Bank will be able to support more families, maybe even shorten some of the lines,” said Ruiz.

Although the stimulus package will help food banks, it’s the local community that has consistently kept food on the table for hungry families.

“Since COVID has hit in March and the community has come together to really help meet the rising need, we've actually been able to distribute over seven hundred thousand more meals every month compared to the same time last year,” said Williams.

San Diego County created a page dedicated to non-profit food assistance. If you or someone you know is in need of a meal or if you would like to donate or volunteer at a local food bank click here.