As the coronavirus pandemic continues to impact San Diegans across the county, Feeding San Diego is responding by getting more nutritious food into the community. Most recently, Feeding San Diego launched a new partnership with the Union of Pan Asian Communities (UPAC). Based in City Heights, UPAC distributes dry goods and fresh produce from Feeding San Diego every Friday, from 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM. 150 households are served each week.

“Feeding San Diego is making a significant impact on the community, and we are extremely grateful for their partnership. This collaboration allows us to provide critical needs for our most vulnerable families and neighborhoods,” said Margaret Iwanaga Penrose, UPAC President and CEO. The distribution is located at UPAC Neighborhood Enterprise Center, The Neighborhood Café, at 5296 University Ave., Suite A, San Diego, CA 92105.

“With more than 27 percent of San Diegans unemployed as a result of COVID-19, we continue to experience a tremendous surge in people facing hunger — those living in City Heights are particularly vulnerable,” said Vince Hall, CEO of Feeding San Diego. “We are proud to partner with the Union of Pan Asian Communities, and we have a student to thank for it. The student reached out to us after he researched the needs of the area and wanted to ensure that families without cars could access a nearby distribution. In the center of the City Heights neighborhood, the UPAC Neighborhood Enterprise Center now provides families with regular nutrition every Friday, easily accessible by foot.”

Saw Kay, a junior high student, explained how many City Heights residents have lost their jobs or received pay cuts due to the COVID-19 crisis. “Everybody in my community is living paycheck to paycheck. Some of them cannot work from home and have to go to work despite the coronavirus crisis. This is a very difficult and unprecedented time for us. I would like people in San Diego to keep working together, connecting, and helping each other. Through teamwork, we can care for those affected by the pandemic and make it through.”

“In 2016, my best friend introduced me to UPAC. They focus on making sure the youth in the neighborhood learn a lot, break down barriers, and interact with different cultures. Not surprisingly, there are Asians, Hispanics, African Americans, and a diverse cultural group that make-up City Heights. We talk about what’s going on in the community. In City Heights, there are a lot of immigrants and refugees. I have refugee status from Thailand. There are food distributions across San Diego, but they are not within walking distance. That’s why I decided that it would be a good idea to come up with one in our community that people can walk to.” 

Sharing his experience at the UPAC food distribution, Saw said, “People always smile and really appreciate this initiative. They often wave and say, ‘Thank you very much!’ and ‘God bless you!’ It’s been an amazing and rewarding experience to help people.”

Thank you, Saw, for taking the initiative to connect Feeding San Diego and UPAC to provide hunger-relief to our community! 

Feeding San Diego offers food assistance at hundreds of distribution sites throughout San Diego County. Since March 14, the hunger-relief organization distributed 4.5 million meals at drive-through, no-touch distributions, including emergency regional food distributions, rural mobile pantries, and youth meal sites. The organization’s food finder map (feedingsandiego.org/find-food) is a valuable resource for San Diegans to locate a food distribution in their neighborhoods.