2020 Summer Lunch Programs for Kids (And Other Free Food Resources in San Diego)

file0001360139839

I am usually sooo much more on top of these free lunch posts, but…well, life has been a little crazy around here, and all over the world.

Better late than never, so, here we go. In past years schools, libraries, and community centers have hosted these free lunches, this year, however, the list of facilities has decreased.

GUHSDIf you don’t find any facilities near you offering free lunches, I recommend contacting 211, they may have more updated information.

table of hopeAnd if you are in need of food for your entire family, but you find yourself not qualifying for P-EBT or other social services, I recommend that you check out Facebook. There are tons of local groups of neighbors getting together setting up Tables of Hope. In San Diego, there are several. Tables of Hope are small groups of neighbors that have set up food distribution tables within neighborhoods to help those who might be experiencing food insecurity.

Churches and community organizations are offering free food distributions that require no proof of need, like Faith Chapel in Spring Valley. They are offering free produce each Friday through mid-August. You can find out more info here.

And the San Diego Food Bank is continuing their neighborhood distributions– Lots of produce and goodies are available each week. No proof of need or residency requirements.

There are all sorts of organizations looking to help families in need.

Even if you are not in dire need, if you need help stretching your budget, these resources are here for you!

Talk Back: How are you stretching your food budget this summer?

Food Bank Resources in Northern San Diego County

DSCN2469A few years back, I wrote this post, which I update about once a year with information on Food Banks/Food Pantries and food co-ops in San Diego County. Considering san Diego County is larger than some New England states, I decided to dedicate a post purely to North County food resources, as I have been getting requests for those lately. Thanks to my friends Elizabeth, Kate, Yvonne, and Stephanie for assisting me with the research!

distro2.jpg
North County Neighborhood Distribution Sites 2020

There are of course the Neighborhood Distribution sites from The Jacobs & Cushman San Diego Food Bank. 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.

Learn more about Neighborhood Distributions here. The 2020 Calendar of Neighborhood Distributions can be found here.

If you live in Escondido or Oceanside, check out the Interfaith Community Services Website for information on food.

In Encinitas:

  • The Community Resource Center has Bread distribution and other food distributions several times a week. More information can be found here.

In Vista:

  • North County’s Food Bank 1175 Melrose Way, Vista, CA, 92081 (760) 761-1140 The Emergency Food for Individuals program is direct food assistance available to needy individuals. Program is available every first, third and fifth Monday of the month.
  • Food Distribution at Lamb of God Food Bank 1120 Highland Dr, Vista, CA 92083 (760) 458-4655 every Tuesday and Thursdays, 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm

 

In San Marcos:

  • Summit Church 292 E. Barham Dr., San Marcos, CA 92078 760.471.6267 or office@summitsanmarcos.comArrive: 11:00 am, food distribution: 12:00 p – 1:00 pm

    Summit hosts a farmers market-style free food outreach 2x per month!
    Every 2nd & 4th Tuesday of every month, they give 25 lbs of food to anyone
    in need in the front parking lot. Everyone is welcome; there are no requirements!

In Ramona:

  • Ramona Food and Clothes Closet Each 3rd Friday of the month, a truck will bring perishable food items like produce to the store for distribution.  You do not need to qualify for this program.   Patrons are asked to line up before 9:00 AM in an orderly fashion and wait their turn.  

    Each person will receive approximately 20-25 pounds of food per family.  It is a first-come, first-serve basis.  You will need to bring your own bags or rolling carts.

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 have any food resources to share, please leave a comment!

 

 

Tips to Reign In and Out Of Control Family Budget: Taking Advantage of Discounts

959b176d7a237c76fc19ff89cdfc6904.jpgPreviously we talked about shopping your Cell Phone service, Internet service, even your Auto/Home/Health insurance.

Sometimes switching companies doesn’t yield you any savings. At that point, turn to your current providers and see if there are any additional discounts or perks that you could be taking advantage of and are not currently receiving?

Example: Some cell phone providers (Like T-Mobile) offer perks or freebies weekly. Free tacos, backpacks, free Netflix subscriptions, and other swag are some of the other cool things that they have offered in the past. AT&T has a program called AT&T Thanks where customers can score varying freebies and deals depending on what type(s) of service they have with AT&T.

Some Auto Insurance companies offer discounts for good students (High school and/or college), safe driving/accident-free, defensive driving courses, and low mileage discounts. It’s worth a call in to see if you can score any extra discounts!

What about services that you can’t shop around?

Utilities are a big one- We can’t shop utilities here in San Diego. SDG&E is the only name in the game here.

BUT- there are ways you can save and even earn money!

Did you know that most local utilities (in San Diego county that means SDG&E) will come out and inspect your AC/furnace for free at the beginning of each season? They can let you know if your furnace or AC is running in tiptop condition, and they can also check to see if your pilot light is lit and safe to run your furnace.

If you are in a lower income or you have a medical condition that requires continue with usage of electricity, SDG&E and other utilities frequently have a medical baseline or low-income program that you can apply for to save money on your utilities.

Other ways that you can save money on your utilities include signing up for services like Ohmconnect, which help you conserve electricity during peak demand hours, which not only helps you save money, but you’ll be saving extra electricity as well.

We’ve been members of them connect for upwards of five years, and we earn about $100 a year cashback from home connect, in addition to the money that we save on our SDG&E bill. You can learn more about Ohm Connect Here.

 

 

 

Make a Difference with Branch Out Market!

Recently the awesome folks at Branch Out Market reached out to me. Their message and products really spoke to me. Branch Out Market is a marketplace of incredible handmade items and tremendous hope. They represent nonprofits and artisan groups around the world in their efforts to reach a wider market. All of their partners/suppliers follow fair-trade practices, create jobs where needed most, and give back through lifting up!

IMG_7525.jpg
Per Henry, “Don’t wake the Pangolin!”

They partner with nonprofits who are teaching a skill, working with women, young artisans, or refugees to help create economic opportunities and income streams for their projects. Branch Out Market spreads kindness and significance not only to their customers but also our non-profit partners, our producers from South Africa, India, all around the world! They don’t have sufficient access to a broader market like Branch Out Market does. Branch Out Market helps them focus on their missions and building jobs.

 

IMG_7526.jpg
Henry has been sleeping with his new buddy.

We received this super cute Pangolin in the mail. He was knit in Zimbabwe by a lady called Gladys.

Henry loves Pangolins- There is one at the San Diego Zoo. They are protected animals, as they are trafficked heavily for their meat and scales (which are keratin). They are super cute little animals.

10% of the sale of the Gogo Olive products go to support the work of the Tikki Hywood Trust.

 

IMG_7417.jpgIn addition to these cute little hand knit stuffies, Branch Out Market sells home goods, holiday ornaments, clothing, accessories, and paper goods.

When you buy a simple gift from Branch Out Market, you are spreading kindness, too. Every product has a story; every purchase makes an impact!

Porchlight Community Services

Screen Shot 2019-08-08 at 11.02.54 PM.pngFor those of you who have read my blog for a while, you know that food insecurity is a cause near and dear to my heart.

In San Diego County, one in seven families experience food insecurity. Food insecurity means you’re not sure where your next healthy, nutritious meal is coming from. It means you probably don’t have extra cans in your cupboard, or that you need to be more than just a little creative when it comes to cooking that a few days before payday.

Food insecurity is an issue that I feel very strongly about. No one should be hungry, and no one should have to eat mass-produced, poorly made, food devoid of nutritional just to fill their belly. Quality, nutritious food should be available to anyone and everyone at an affordable price.

That is one reason I am so excited to share with you today about an awesome organization in Linda Vista called Porchlight Community Services.

Porchlight Community Services is different from a lot of other food organizations in that they are a food rescue organization. They work with produce distributors, grocery stores, and bakery to rescue food that is otherwise destined for the dumpster.

Next time you’re at the grocery store take a look at all the fruit, all the produce, all the baked goods. The likelihood of all of those items will sell before their pull date is slim.

So when items are pulled off the shelf prior to their expiration date, they are frequently thrown in the trash. That trash heads to the landfill. Grocery store, bakeries, food distributors do not compost their unwanted food. Food rescue agencies like Porchlight Community Services pick up the food (that is still good, by the way, pull dates are usually arbitrary, and only affect the appearance of the food, not it’s quality or viability). They then take the food back to their offices where it is gone over to make sure that it is still quality, and edible. And it is been distributed to families who support Porchlight Community Services mission.

Screen Shot 2019-08-08 at 11.14.09 PM.pngProduce that can not be distributed (it’s leftover at the end of the event), is often donated to neighbors with animals, or local animal organizations. Once again, eliminating food waste and helping others,

Some of the companies that donate to Porchlight Community Services include Ralphs, Boudin Bakery, Wal-Mart, Starry Lane Bakery, and California Produce.

Porchlight Community Services is not your average food bank or pull date co-op. There is no minimum or maximum amount of money your family needs to make to participate. Some people who shop at Porchlight do so because they believe in the mission of keeping food out of landfills (like my family- it hurts my heart to see perfectly good food go to waste). Some people go to Porchlight Community Services because they are in need of wholesome nutritious groceries that fit a specialized diet (like Gluten-free or Dairy-free) but can’t afford to shell out money every week or two for the costly groceries at a mainstream grocery store.  Some people are in a tight spot and need to stretch what little money they have until payday.

Screen Shot 2019-08-08 at 11.17.26 PM.png
An example of past food items available

Distributions are usually held weekly. You can find out about upcoming events here on their website, or follow them on Facebook.

All funds that are raised go towards paying rent and utilities- to keep the Mission of feeding others going. 

If you are interested in helping Porchlight Community Services, they are always looking for volunteers to help unload food as it comes in on distribution days, organize and stock shelves, refrigerators, and freezers.

They also need help volunteering with event prep- setting up tables and bins.

This might be a good opportunity for girl scout troops or other civic organizations! Contact Porchlight Community Services here to find out about more volunteer opportunities.

 

 

Enjoy Fireworks & Fun at Legoland!

Screen Shot 2019-07-02 at 9.17.43 AM.png

If you don’t have plans for Thursday, check out the fun at Legoland California!

Don’t miss Fireworks set to a patriotic musical tribute with great viewing in designated locations throughout the Park.

Event activities include:

  • All-American family picnic games: water-balloon tosses, burlap sack races, Family Build Challenge and LEGO Hamburger relay
  • Patriotic costume parade: come dressed in your favorite Red, White and Blue attire
  • Fireworks
  • Character meet and greets
  • Special giveaways
  • Live performances and more!

The celebration lasts from 1:00pm to 9:00pm with fireworks at 8:30pm. All Red, White and BOOM! activities are included in the cost of admission to LEGOLAND California.

And if you are looking for a deal, Groupon has discount admissions here. Or if you stop by a San Diego County area McDonald’s location, you can pick up a coupon for a free child admission when you purchase an adult admission at full price.

If you are looking for more frugal fun at Legoland, check out my post here.  If you have a special needs child, learn more about the Assisted Access pass here.

When Life Gets Crazy…

file3781288474089

Oh, God.. I won’t lie. I had this entire post written, hit save, and it disappeared. Further proof that life is totally crazy right now.

I’ve got 3 weeks left of school, then (fingers crossed), I will graduate from college after a 17-year hiatus. So, I’ve got a lot of stress right now, between my regular responsibilities, studying, and getting ready for a huge almost weeklong camping event with my friends and a lot of my family.

I wanted to share some tips for how I keep it together when life is just crazy. These may not all apply to you, but they definitely help me.

Ask for help. I’ve been relying a lot on family, friends, and our respite hours through San Diego Regional Center so I can get out of the house without the kids to get stuff done. I love them, but sometimes shopping without them is just easier. Having a few hours alone to study in the library is nice. It’s hard to study when Legos are being played with right next to you.

Keeping to our schedule. Granted, there have been some changes to accommodate my schooling, but we are trying to get the kids to bed at night on time (sometimes that doesn’t happen), and out the door in the morning for school.  This includes my visits to the YMCA 4-5 times a week. I really believe that exercise helps me maintain a positive attitude and helps me manage my stress. I also have been continuing to meal plan, even though I sometimes forget to post it.

Be Flexible. This is a tough one for some of us (myself included). Sometimes life gets crazy, and you need to go with the flow. Sometimes that means cereal for dinner, sometimes it means going to bed the same time the kids do because everyone is tired.

Give Yourself Grace. Remember that this portion of your life won’t last forever. It won’t always be stressful, busy, or this hard.

Do What is Right for Your Family. This one can be hard, especially since we live in the era of Pinterest worthy, social media one-upmanship. I’m a fucking hot mess and I’ll admit it. As long as my family is loved and cared for- that’s all that matters. And sometimes that means cereal for dinner!

 

Talk Back: What do you do when life gets busy/crazy/unpredictable? 

 

2018 Holiday Resources For Those in Need

2018 has been a hard year for so many families. Thankfully there are many local groups that are offering help to neighbors in need.

The holiday are more than food and gifts, but no one should go hungry any time of year!

Here is my post with a list of food banks/pantries in San Diego. Many of the food pantries also have special holiday distributions, it is worth a call to find out of any additional food or gift distributions will be done.

unnamed (1).jpgMeet the Need at Faith Chapel is giving away 100 6-7 foot Christmas trees this Sunday, December 2, 2018 to the first 100 people who register.

If you desire a tree, plan on coming to Faith Chapel to register as early as 8:30am. Trees are limited to the first 100 registrants. Bring tie downs or whatever else you need to take a tree home with you.  From their email, “Meet The Need will be held at the Faith Chapel Activity Center at the top of the church property beginning at 1:00pm. There will be lots of fun activities and a wonderful Mexican Themed meal!

Registration for Meet The Need will be held in the church lobby at the top of the campus in the main foyer. Registration will begin as early as 8:30am and will be open till 10:30am. We only have 100 Christmas Tree’s, available for the first 100 registrants that want a Christmas Tree. So if you want to guarantee yourself a tree, show up as early as possible.

Registration will be from 8:30-1:00pm Feel free to register at this link now. It’ll help the line move faster but please know this does not count as saving your place in line for a tree. Doors open for Meet The Need at 1:00pm.”

Screen Shot 2017-11-13 at 1.53.34 PM.pngToys 4 Joy has 3 San Diego area events on December 8th. Toys for Joy is open to all children and families and no registration is required. One free toy will be given to all children attending the event ages 0 – 11. Free lunch will be provided in addition to free entertainment, kids activities and giveaways. All three locations have free groceries and one location has free gently used clothing available.
Screen Shot 2018-11-30 at 10.24.34 AM.pngThe Cameron YMCA is hosting a free Cookies and Milk with Santa on Saturday, December 15th.
Bring the entire family and join us for our annual Cookies with Santa!
Enjoy Cookie decorating, ornament making, letters to Santa, pin the
heart on the Grinch and photos with Santa!
Pre-Registration Required. Thanks to PetSmart of El Cajon, all children registered will receive a plush toy at the event while supplies last.
This event is not limited to YMCA members! To register, please call the Cameron YMCA in Santee at 619-449-9622.
46483028_285394222087178_1187343279482470400_o.jpgEast County kids are invited to meet Santa, enjoy crafts and snacks with the Santee-Lakeside Elks Lodge on December 15th.
Here is the event page with details and the address

In order for your kids to receive a gift, please sign up your kids up to 12 years old via email to Jerrilynn: Kids_Christmas_Party@cox.net by December 7th please include name, age & gender and gift idea under $20.00

 

Screen Shot 2018-11-30 at 10.08.55 AM.pngNew Christian Fellowship in Hillcrest is having an fun, free event on December 22nd. There will be toys for kids 12 and under, as well as food, games, and fn. You can find more information on their Facebook page here.
And if you are in a position to help out, please consider donating to your local food or toy drive. Many grocery stores have red donation barrels, schools are doing canned food drives for their local food banks this time of year too.
46917582_1434957259969602_6344294160849174528_n.jpgIn Santee, Santee Santas and our local Chick-Fil-A have teamed up to “Stuff the truck” this Saturday, December 1st.
Bring a toy or non-perishable food item and receive a free menu item (see the flier). You can learn more here.
Firefly Wellness Day Spa is also holding a food drive.
When you donate, not only will you have the satisfaction of knowing that you are helping others, but you will also get a thank you coupon from Firefly Wellness Day Spa. Each person who donates ten (10) or more items will receive a coupon for a FREE brow wax or a $20 coupon to use at Firefly Wellness Day Spa which can either be used as a holiday gift or use it for yourself on your next visit. (Limit one coupon per person.)
You can get details and learn more here.
Talk Back: What is your favorite way to help others? 

Simple Ways to Help Others This Holiday Season

With the holidays approaching (Hey, tomorrow is Thanksgiving), you will probably start to see charities and organizations ask for assistance with their holiday campaigns. If you are on a budget, writing a check may not be feasible, but there are other ways to help.

1-Donate to your local food bank food drive: Most food banks see an increase in clients at the end of the year, and need everyday foods. Clean out your cupboard and donate some IN DATE, un-dented cans or boxed items.  

I know most of us have some extra (and unexpired) items in their cupboard they could part with. If you are unsure what kind of items to donate, here are items that the food bank always needs:

  • Canned Meats
  • Canned Vegetables
  • Canned Fruits
  • Canned Soup
  • Peanut Butter
  • Cereal & Oatmeal
  • Rice & Pasta
  • Powdered Milk, beverage mixes (like shelf stable juice concentrate, instant coffee, hot cocoa pouches)
  • Infant Formula (The sample sized canisters or sample pouches that you may have received free in the mail are perfect donations!)

2- If your local area doesn’t have a food bank, check to see if there is a  Little Free Pantry in your area.  These are stocked by neighbors in the area, and most of them can always use some extra boxes or cans. Our neighborhood has a Blessing Box located at the nearby church.  Sometimes neighbors are too embarrassed to seek out help. In those cases, Little Free Pantries and Blessing boxes are saving graces.

3-Don’t forget to check out your local Buy Nothing Groups. Within local buy nothing groups, your neighbors are offering up items for free, and you can offer items from your home that you no longer need.

4-Donate! Charities sometimes accept gently used items to sell to raise money for their causes (such as AmVets, and DAV). You can drop off stuff you no longer need/want and help others at the same time!

5-Donate to a Clothing Swap. I’ve written about clothing swaps here before. With the holidays coming up, some local organizations have an increased need for clothing, especially if they offer clothing without requiring a donation from those in need.  If you are in need of clothing, but have nothing to swap, two good free clothing resources in San Diego are The Closet on 54th (Men, women, and children’s clothing) and Naomi’s Closet (only women’s clothing). 

Five Ways to Help a Special Needs Mom

158b3ea47eb4b5467a381bf7aa1d910b.jpgAs much as love and tolerance for others is taught these days, sometimes the first reaction when someone sees a special needs kid in public having issues (read: meltdown or stimming/self soothing) can be to stare wide eyed, make offhand or rude comments, or just bristle at “the weird kid”.

Please remember that the parents are doing the best they can, and that just like your neuro-typical kids, their kids have bad days too. Here are my five tips for how anyone can help a special needs mom.

  1. Offer to Help:  Offer to carry a bag or box they may be struggling with, especially if they are trying to remove their kiddo from public. I remember a few years ago, we were at Chick-Fil-A and Our big guy was done. He was tired, there were 15-20 kids in the little sound-proof kids area, so it was crazy loud in there and he was over stimulated. He just broke down and started crying and was wailing like a banshee. Two moms at the next table helped us pack up our leftovers, got our drinks refilled, and helped us carry everything out to the car, so I could carry both kids out. No shame, no dirty looks. Just compassion for a situation that every mom faces: THE PUBLIC MELTDOWN.
  2. Be a Friend:  It can be very isolating to have a special needs kid, trust me. Text your friend. Offer to get together at a park or some place that her kiddo(s) can play, so you can spend time together. Some special needs parents have hectic schedules with therapy appointments or doctors visits sometimes weekly. Keeping in contact with your friend can really help “normalize” her life.  I so seldom see other moms, that texting and Facebook are two of the ways I am able to keep up friendships.
  3. Starbucks Run: Ok, so it doesn’t have to be Starbucks, but if you know she’s having a rough day, bring her a coffee or a treat. I had someone (and to this day it’s a mystery), send flowers to me after a really rough week.
  4. Expect to hear NO- and be OK with it: As much as you want to see your friend, hang out, go to the movies, get a pedicure, or just gossip over coffee, it can be hard for special needs moms to get away. Not everyone has family that can handle their kiddo, and special needs respite/care can be expensive. Sometimes, even the offer to hang out is better than being left out completely.
  5. Give Your Friend Grace, and Pray for them: Recognize that your friend may have a harder road to hoe that you and your family, and that’s ok. If you aren’t religious, think of them or send them good thoughts, dedicate your meditation or yoga session to them.

Talk Back: I’d love to hear about a time when you helped another person!