By Brigitte Taylor
The San Diego Hunger Coalition (“SDHC”) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving access to and participation in federal food programs. They educate and advocate on the local, state and national levels with a vision of extinguishing hunger and malnutrition within the County.
In light of the flurry of charitable acts that traditionally emphasize holiday giving, I wanted to explore what we can do on an ongoing basis to assist local food and nourishment-related programs any time of the year.
I spoke with Jennifer Tracy, the Executive Director of San Diego Hunger Coalition (SDHC) an agency that has been in existence for thirty-five years and operates with a total seven staff members.
SDHC has numerous community partnerships which include about sixty organizations (such as Food Bank, Feeding America, Catholic Charities, Jewish Family Services, Chula Vista Collaborative) and they provide training and support to these groups, as well as serve as part of the task force for the CalFresh program (formerly known as Food Stamps). Part of SDHC’s role is to conduct research on policy issues and gather feedback from partners and take it to the executive level, working to make the CalFresh process more efficient and effective across the county.
As with many nonprofit programs, one of the main challenges for SDHC is a lack of funding. Volunteers are needed to help raise funds and raise awareness about the organization.
Another area in which help is needed (and that any of us can do at any time) is to work to change the misconceptions and stigmas that are associated with anti-hunger programs. Tracy says, “People think it’s waste, it’s fraud and abuse. Less than 2 percent of the cases are fraudulent; overall, the programs are really effective….”
Based on this misconception, more awareness is needed to educate people about the overall needs of our community. The more we learn about what the issues are the less likelihood for miseducation and stereotyping around the hunger issue. Independent research, blogging and sharing via Facebook and Twitter are good ways to help promote a better understanding of the hunger issues in San Diego and this also helps the numerous organizations involved in anti-hunger campaigns.
SDHC can also use volunteers who would like to serve on the board of directors as well as volunteers who would like to contribute their advocacy skills by working to make sure that people have access to Cal Fresh program. Additionally, communications support such as web development and content writing are also needed.
Volunteers who want to encourage a dialogue which will inform the public and reduce the misconceptions that many have about hunger issues are in demand. These are simple and effective ways to get involved that can make a big difference in other people’s lives.
We have so many key resources to address these local issues. It is good to know about these collaborations that include neighborhood gardens, local farms, health educators, nutrition experts and for-profit entities that are in place to assist us be of greater service to one another.
You can learn more about SDHC’s efforts by visiting their site: www.sandiegohungercoalition.org.
Brigitte Blogs at: Blog www.suitebrigitte.blogspot.com