A few years ago, I attended an hour-long fitness class and, before it started, the trainer paused to take in each one of us who had put in the time and effort to make it to the class and said, “You’re here.  Don’t waste it.” It struck me in that moment how right she was. I took that advice home with me and it is something that applies to everything I do. If you’re going to bother showing up at the gym, then work up a sweat. Don’t waste it standing around. If enough healthy food is produced daily to feed everyone in the city, then don’t waste it.

When I joined the Feeding San Diego board in 2013, I was looking for an opportunity to help solve the hunger problem in my home town. I was convinced there was enough food to feed everyone, but there just weren’t enough resources to provide the food that already existed to those who needed it. It bothered me, and it still does, that people are hungry. Food is such an important part of our lives – it nourishes, it gives comfort, and it can even provide a sense of community. Without nutritious food, we cannot function at our best. When something so basic and so important, is at our fingertips, why waste it?

When I looked for opportunities to get involved, I also became aware of the fact that those who need food in San Diego are not just homeless folks or those individuals perpetually living below the poverty level. Rather, it is often a coworker who doesn’t make enough money to feed their family, or it is a friend who has lost their job, or a hungry child at school working hard on an empty tummy. And so often, a permanent handout is not required or even desired by such individuals or families. They simply need help with food assistance for just a few short months as a bridge for getting through hard times. I see FSD as that bridge.

I’ve continued my involvement with FSD over the past five years, both because of the direct impact it has on so many people in the community, and because of the caring hearts of those who work with FSD. I work alongside a tremendous and talented board where each individual gives the best of their time and resources to make it a powerful, purposeful and impactful organization intent on eradicating hunger in our city. I am always confident that FSD applies the same “Don’t Waste It” principle to donated funds, using them judiciously and efficiently to ensure maximized potential to help.

FSD is an innovative and creative organization – breaking the traditional food banking model and thinking outside of the box regarding ways to provide food to those who need it. In fact, FSD has fostered successful partnerships with several entities that have brought help directly to those in need. Examples include partnering with Starbucks last year to gather and distribute unsold meals to those who are hungry, with grocery stores to rescue food that would otherwise be thrown away and wasted; and with farms to gather food that would otherwise be composted. In fact, 97% of the food that FSD obtains would go to waste but for FSD’s rescue of it. These solutions recognize the simple fact that when food is “ready now,” it will not go to waste when it is made available to people facing hunger who are ready to eat now.

I am proud of FSD and its commitment to a hunger-free and healthy San Diego. We are all here to make a difference. I am thankful to have the opportunity to reach out across our community and take hold of readily available food and simply say, “We didn’t waste it.”