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South County surge in food bank use Robert Moreno | Sat, Mar 08 2014 12:00 PM

While the economy may be slowly recovering from the recession and the national unemployment rate is 6.6 percent, there are still National City and Chula Vista families and individuals turning to San Diego Food Bank distribution centers for a meal.

According to data complied by the San Diego Food Bank, there has been an increase in the need for food in the two South Bay cities.

In 2013, more than 1.6 million pounds of food was distributed among the 15 food bank centers in National City. 

That is about 435,000 more pounds than the year before.

Chula Vista has also seen a spike in the need for food.

Last year, more than 1.5 million pounds of food was distributed among 27 distribution centers in Chula Vista, an increase from 2012 where about 1.2 million pounds of food were distributed.

National City Mayor Ron Morrison said one reason for the increase in his city is that more residents know where to go for food.

“National City has collaborated with various organizations and non-profits to improve outreach efforts,” Morrison said.

Chula Vista Councilman Rudy Ramirez said the increase in need for food is because in some parts of Chula Vista the economy hasn’t fully rebounded.

James Floros, president and CEO of the Jacobs and Cushman San Diego Food Bank, said although the economy hasn’t been as bad as years past, more people are turning to food banks for food.

Floros said the reductions in CalFresh and food stamps contribute to the increase in food distribution.

While the need for food continues to grow, Floros said food donations stayed flat last year.

He said last year’s holiday food drive only generated a little more than 600,000 pounds of food, which he said was less than that of 2012.

Floros said there is a misconception that food banks only serve the homeless.

He said a recent study showed that less than 10 percent of the people served are homeless, while two-thirds of those who get food from food banks are one-income families.

‘There’s a lot of people who are still having a hard time feeding their families, there are a lot of people who are underemployed,” he said.

Last year the Friends of Downtown Food Bank in National City distributed 412,883 pounds of food, which was the highest food distribution rate in the city.

In Chula Vista the MAAC Project led the way by distributing nearly 343,000 pounds of food.

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