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Bonnie Dempsey, Hand Up Food Pantry Program Assistant; Brendan Rosen, Hand Up Food Pantry Coordinator; Shelly Parks, Director of Programs – Jacobs & Cushman San Diego Food Bank; Gabrielle Charo, Director of Nutrition Services (courtesy photo)

Best Food Pantry in San Diego Awarded to Jewish Family Service

San Diego County CAJewish Family Service of San Diego’s (JFS) Hand Up Food Pantry was awarded “Best Choice Pantry” for its Corner Market at the 2017 San Diego County Hunger Conference. Each year, the Hunger Conference, hosted by the Jacobs & Cushman San Diego Food Bank, convenes to discuss how to stop hunger in San Diego County, focusing on collaborative approaches, unified efforts and prioritizing those served.

“With more than 460,000 people struggling with hunger in San Diego County, our Hand Up Food Pantry plays a vital role in reducing the uncertainty many face when finding their next meal,” said JFS CEO Michael Hopkins. “Jewish Family Service is a client-centered, impact-driven organization working to build healthier San Diego. The more people we can help access healthy food, the better we can foster a stronger, more resilient community.”

Led by the Hand Up Teen Leadership Program, JFS’s Hand Up Food Pantry is a food assistance effort to help alleviate food insecurity in San Diego County. The program runs JFS’s Corner Market, a client-choice food pantry where clients “shop” for the items they need. The pantry is a partner agency of Feeding America San Diego and the Jacobs & Cushman San Diego Food Bank.

The distinction for Best Choice Pantry was awarded based on seven criteria: client-choice in operation for at least one year; dignified service; unlimited bread and produce; promotion of nutritious choices; engagement in services and/or referrals beyond emergency food; integration of nutrition education (e.g. recipe cards, food demos, cooking classes, etc.); and serves as a model for other nonprofit food programs.

In addition to the Corner Market, the Hand Up Food Pantry serves as the hub for all food assistance programs at JFS, altogether providing more than 250,000 meals annually to locals in need. In an effort to ease the hunger hardship that many people in San Diego face, the pantry holds food drives, builds holiday supply bags and organizes monthly distributions.

Hand Up Food Pantry is a shining example of a model client-choice food program. Any nonprofit in San Diego should visit its Corner Market to see what a difference such a dignified experience can make in the life of someone facing hunger,” said Shelly Parks, director of programs at the Jacobs & Cushman San Diego Food Bank. “The experience is empowering, instills hope and represents how everyone should be treated when they need help at a rough point in their lives.”

JFS offers additional social and financial services, including senior social and wellness centers throughout San Diego County and Foodmobile, which provides hot, kosher, home-delivered meals to homebound disabled and older adults.

For more information about JFS’s nutrition and food assistance programs, visit www.jfssd.org/food.

About Jewish Family Service

Since 1918, Jewish Family Service of San Diego has been a trusted community resource for individuals and families working to build better lives. Operating throughout San Diego County and the Coachella Valley, the agency’s integrated services are focused around three goals: Empower Individuals & Families to Move Toward Self-Sufficiency, Support Aging With Dignity, and Foster Community Connection & Engagement. Many people first turn to Jewish Family Service with a specific need, such as job coaching or transportation, and that first contact often leads to a wide range of services, including counseling, education, nutritious meals, social connection, and more. JFS was named a 2016 California Nonprofit of the Year and has earned a 10th consecutive 4-star rating from Charity Navigator, America’s largest independent charity evaluator that highlights the work of efficient, ethical and open charities. To get help, volunteer, or to learn how JFS empowers change in our community, visit www.jfssd.org.