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Catholic Charities expands food distribution

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NATIONAL CITY – Catholic Charities has partnered with the City of National City to expand free food distribution to low-income families affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The partnership began on May 7, and expands distribution to three days a week from St. Anthony of Padua Parish.

“During this unprecedented time, it’s important for all of us to work together to meet the needs of our community,” said National City Mayor Alejandra Sotelo-Solis. “And that is exactly what we are doing.”

National City’s 61,000 residents are among the county’s poorest, with a per capita annual income of around $21,000, according to 2015 Census Bureau data. These families have been hit particularly hard by the pandemic.

St. Anthony of Padua Church is one of 21 parishes participating in Catholic Charities’ Emergency Food Distribution Network, launched on April 6. Families who sign up may either pick up a bag of food at the parish or volunteers deliver it to their home, all following COVID-19 health guidelines.

Parishes are distributing food at least once a week, however, several distribute twice or more times a week to meet their community’s demand.

By the last week of April, the network had served 7,500 people in San Diego and Imperial counties, said Appaswamy “Vino” Pajanor, the executive director of Catholic Charities San Diego. Some 1,101 volunteers had contributed a total of 3,303 hours to the effort.

New families are contacting the organization every day asking to receive food, he added.

“I am hoping that this proactive, efficient collaborative model we are building in National City to address an urgent community need can be replicated across our county,” the director said.

The food comes from the San Diego Food Bank or Feeding San Diego, which deliver the goods in pallets to Cathedral Catholic High School. Once a week, teams from the parishes arrive to pick up their allocation to take to their facilities, where volunteers prepare the bags for distribution.

The director credited the Knights of Columbus, San Diego Chapter, for supporting this essential work from day one.

He gave as an example what occurred on a recent Thursday night when he discovered that three additional drivers with trucks were going to be needed the next morning to transport food from the high school to St. Anthony’s Parish. He texted Brother Armando Mena requesting the drivers and, by the next morning, Mena had them lined up.

Mena, along with Rene Trevino, the Knights’ State Advocate, “are leaders who are putting their faith-in-action and are calling others to do the same,” the director said. “I am honored to be working with them.”

Low-income families and homebound individuals facing hunger during the COVID-19 crisis may request a food pack-age from the Emergency Food Distribution Network by calling (619) 323-2841 or through the page ccdsd.org/efdn.

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