Updated: August 2020
For some of us, couponing and frugal living aren’t enough. Sometimes you need help, and there is no shame in admitting that.
In large metropolitan areas like San Diego County, there are many resources for those who have food insecurity. Some of them require proof of need, proof of residence, or extensive paperwork to qualify. For someone who is embarrassed by food insecurity, these requirements can be a deterrent. Other organizations put a cap on how many times a family can visit.
Here are a few local Central and East San Diego County Area organizations that offer food assistance that do not require any proof of need:
The Cupboard on 54th. Located at Calvary Lutheran Church 3060 54th Street, San Diego, CA 92115. They are open 3 times a week.
You can get dry goods one time per month and a produce bag is available each day they are open (for a total of three times a week).
This is located at the same location as a free clothing closet. They have clothes for men women and children, as well as shoes and accessories.
Journey Church in La Mesa has a food bank that distributes food three times per month.
- 1st Thursday of the month at 6:30 pm
- 2nd Friday of the month – produce only – at 9 am
- 3rd Saturday of the month from 8:30 am
Christ United Methodist Church 3295 Meade Ave San Diego, CA 92116 has a food bank three days a week. Hours: Mondays 1-3pm, Wednesdays 10am-Noon and 1-3pm, Fridays 10am-Noon and 1-3pm. Park in the rear lot and look for the Good Neighbor Center Food Bank sign. They also have other services for those in need. Check out their website for more information.
The Jacobs & Cushman San Diego Food Bank has neighborhood distribution sites all over San Diego throughout the month. Each time and location is different, but you can expect to go home with a lot of fresh produce! There are no requirements or proof of need (no ID either). Just bring a few reusable bags or a cart to carry your food home.
The 2020 complete Calendar of Neighborhood Distributions can be found here, the East County locations are shown above.
Faith Chapel in Spring Valley has a great event once a month called Meet the Need. It is on the 1st Sunday of each month.
There is a free lunch starting at 1pm with some fellowship (a great way to meet your neighbors), followed by shopping in their boutique for free clothing and household items, and you will go home with a bag (or two) of free, healthy groceries.
You can learn more by visiting or contacting Faith Chapel here. Pastor Josiah and his crew are wonderful people!
For residents of the City of Santee, the Santee Food Bank is available to you once a month. Proof of Santee Residency (like a utility bill) is required, and ID for everyone in the household (ID cards, drivers licenses, school ids, health insurance cards). UPDATED INFO Super Pantry Pilot Program, running from July 1st to December 31st, we have broadened our services to include zip codes outside of the City of Santee.
The Santee Food Bank is open for regular distributions 9 a.m. – 11 a.m. every Wednesday and Friday, as well as the first and third Saturday of each month.
The Santee Food Bank also hosts USDA Commodities twice a month. Commodities are available to anyone, regardless of where you live. They are healthy food staples, and frequently consist of Meat, rice, pasta, canned veggies and fruit, cereal, milk, and bread. Items change each time, but there are always lots of healthy options. Commodities hours are the first Tuesday and the third Tuesday from 9 a.m. – 11 a.m.
Feeding American San Diego has a map on their website of various resources in the San Diego area, many of them require no proof of need or paperwork.
If you are located in Northern San Diego County, here is a post that has options and locations for you.
While not strictly free, Porchlight Community Services (which I wrote about here) frequently has free food distributions. Check their website, or follow them on Facebook for updates and events.
If you have any food resources to share, please leave a comment!