How We Work

Baby sits in car next to food from Fallbrook Food Pantry distribution

At Feeding San Diego, we strive to connect every person facing hunger in San Diego with healthy food. So how can we achieve this goal? It’s simple – through food rescue.

More than 38% of food produced in the U.S. goes to waste every year. Feeding San Diego rescues high-quality, nutritious, surplus food from all types of food donors, such as farms and grocery stores. Then, we work with community partners who distribute the food to people in need.

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A Decentralized Approach

Traditional food banks bring all food to a central warehouse before distributing it. We do things a little differently. Our flexible decentralized model allows us to choose whether to keep food local or bring it to our distribution center. If it’s more efficient for a local partner to rescue the food directly, we coordinate pick up from the food donor by a community partner.

This process helps keep the food fresher, speeds up time to distribution, and enables us to serve more people facing hunger.

There are three main stages in our approach. First, we identify the needs of the people we serve using data. Then, we source the food that’s needed which involves a combination of rescuing and purchasing food. The final step is distribution, which happens in a variety of ways depending on the community need.

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Family at Feeding San Diego free food distribution

You Can Help Feed San Diego

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Monthly and one-time giving options available.

Jensens food donation is placed into trunk of car at Feeding San Diego distribution
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Learn how to make safe, convenient food donations.

Where Do We Get the Food?

FY23 Food Sources: Rescued vs. Purchased

Nearly 80% of the food we distribute is rescued. We rescue food from a range of donors, including: 

  • grocery and retailers, 
  • farms and packing sheds,  
  • hotels,  
  • restaurants,  
  • convenience stores,  
  • caterers 
  • and many more! 

To fill in the gaps, we also purchase some food. Food purchasing increased during the pandemic due to supply chain disruptions and a rise in need. 

So Why Do We Prioritize Food Rescue?