Share Your Luck: Feeding San Diego Partners with the Lucky Duck Foundation and The Salvation Army to Create Opportunities for San Diegans Experiencing Homelessness

Published On: March 16th, 2022By Categories: Community Support, Partnerships3.5 min read

This St. Patrick’s Day, we’re talking about luck. More importantly, we’re talking about sharing your luck. Our friends at the Lucky Duck Foundation recently invested an additional $1 million in a job placement and training initiative for San Diegans experiencing homelessness. These funds will extend current employment and training programs, as well as explore new ones.

One employment opportunity as part of this program is a food rescue driver for The Salvation Army. In this role, drivers follow routes provided by Feeding San Diego to rescue food and deliver it to The Salvation Army locations throughout San Diego County to provide nutritious meals for residents and those they serve.

The collaboration of our three non-profits has created jobs for people who need a route out of homelessness. At the same time, this program keeps good food from going to waste and, instead, gets it to people in need.

Daniel’s Story

We met Daniel, a food rescue driver for The Salvation Army, at Feeding San Diego’s Sorrento Valley distribution center during his weekly pick-up. He was picking up items from Starbucks’ FoodShare program to drive to The Salvation Army in Escondido. He reminisced as he picked up a packaged sandwich: “I used to buy this at Starbucks, spend over $10 bucks.” Then his luck changed.

Daniel, a formerly homeless man, stands in front of an orange Feeding San Diego food rescue van

Daniel, who was experiencing homelessness, stands in front of the food rescue van he now drives for The Salvation Army to help rescue food on Feeding San Diego routes.

“I was homeless; I was on the streets. I went through a bit of a hard time,” he shared. “I lost my job, and I was doing UberEats, but then my vehicle broke down. I didn’t want to go to my family. My family’s there, but I didn’t want to go to them unless it got bad. I ended up being homeless, sleeping on the trolley, bus. I was still on unemployment, so that was helping me out. My family knew, but I didn’t put pressure on them, but at the end, they helped me out a lot. They decided they didn’t want me on the streets anymore, so they pushed me to find a place and not sleep on the trolley anymore.”

Daniel turned to community resources for help and began on his path to getting off the streets and back to work. “I actually dialed 2-1-1, and they gave me five different numbers to call, and one of them was The Salvation Army,” he said. “I am living at The Salvation Army downtown. When I got there, they told me there was openings for drivers, and they told me to put in an application. Three months later, I had the job. I love it.”

Providing a Route out of Homelessness

Centre City director Kaye Cardall leads The Salvation Army’s job placement program. She also interviews and hires all the participants of the program. With funding from the Lucky Duck Foundation, The Salvation Army employs two residents as drivers and one as a food rescue assistant. Altogether, they rescue approximately 8,675 pounds of food per month from Starbucks, Costo, and Vons.

Two men load food into a van

Daniel and a Feeding San Diego employee load the food rescue van for delivery.

“All of the individuals that have been hired for food rescue have moved on and found full-time positions and housing,” she said. “This is very fulfilling for me, knowing I am helping someone to get back on their feet.  I see the transition of hope in each of the participants that go through the program.”

Daniel now says he feels lucky to be doing what he is doing. “I feel lucky because I was doing driving before. This fits right in. I like driving, I like collecting food, and then we give it out. I’m grateful. I’ve been on the other side where I didn’t have any food at all. It’s great. When you see people come in, you see people’s eyes get so big. People don’t have to starve. They just have to find the right places to go to.”