Whether you make a gift of your time, money, or goods, your support will go directly towards programs that save lives.
At least 8,000 people are experiencing homelessness every night in San Diego. Of those, nearly 4,500 men, women and children lie down to sleep each night on sidewalks, in doorways, canyons and alleys. They live without regular access to food or water, and no place to use the bathroom, wash their hands, bathe or do laundry.
The holiday season is a time of hope, joy and love for families across the world. It is a time when many gather with family and friends to enjoy the comforts of home and a warm meal. The special magic of this time of year is just as powerful for children and families who are homeless.
In San Diego, nearly 480,000 people have no home to gather in and struggle to put food on the table.
Numerous studies have found that lack of food results in significantly greater odds of hospitalization, higher use of emergency services and both short- and long-term health problems.
However, access to even one meal a day can drastically reduce the likelihood of these consequences. To combat hunger among those experiencing poverty and homelessness in San Diego, Father Joe’s Villages Food Services Program serves hot, nourishing meals 365 days a year.
Father Joe’s Villages provides an average of 1 million meals each year to homeless men, women and children living in San Diego. They offer three daily meals to people living in the Emergency Housing, Bridge Shelters and Transitional Housing programs, and daily lunch for community members in need through the Franklin Antonio Public Lunch Program.
Each day, Father Joe’s Villages provides 3,000 meals to hungry neighbors in need and uses more than 18,000 pounds of food. The recipes they use are designed to help clients understand and recognize nutritionally balanced meals, so they can prepare healthy food once they return to homes of their own.
The Franklin Antonio Public Lunch Program is crucial to the neighbors in San Diego experiencing poverty and homelessness. For some, the food they receive through the lunch line will be the only meal they eat that day. This meal is especially important because access to warm, nutritious food not only relieves hunger, it can save lives. By providing nourishing food to those in need, Father Joe’s Villages empowers neighbors to focus on overcoming their struggles and gives them the strength necessary to achieve a brighter future.
Father Joe’s Villages provides more than just a healthy meal. They couple this basic need with comprehensive services to help people overcome homelessness for good.
Take Alejandro, for example.
Alejandro was a full-time student until his financial support fell through and he lost his housing. In an instant, Alejandro was living on the streets.
“Surviving the elements was the most difficult part about being homeless,” Alejandro remembers. “Staying warm and finding places to be safe were my number one concerns.”
During a rainstorm, Alejandro sought shelter at Father Joe’s Villages, where he received dinner and a night of rest through their Inclement Weather Shelter.
He learned about Father Joe’s Villages’ housing programs and soon moved into their Transitional Housing program.
During his stay at Father Joe’s Villages, Alejandro began to help in the kitchen preparing meals. “I just thought, they were helping me, I might as well help them out.”
Seeing his interest in cooking, the head chef at Father Joe’s Villages introduced Alejandro to the Culinary Arts Program (CAP), a vocational training program that teaches individuals how to cook and prepare food.
Alejandro credits CAP with instilling in him a passion for cooking and for giving him a new direction for his future. He learned not only culinary skills but knowledge for thriving in a competitive job market.
After completing the 14-week program, Alejandro’s new skills and know-how helped him attain his dream job as a chef on a cruise ship. Next year, he will be cooking delicious meals on a ship traveling the world.
For Alejandro, a warm meal on a rainy day led to a new career and a new direction in life.
“Father Joe’s Villages changed my life by giving me an opportunity and support. I think that’s what I needed most in my life—someone just to say ‘you can do it. Just stick to it.’ I don’t know of any other place that does what Father Joe’s does.”
As you enjoy time around the dinner table with your loved ones this holiday season, remember that you can change a life with something as simple as a meal. For less than a dollar, you can cover the food costs of a meal for a neighbor in need. This holiday season, you can help men, women and children experiencing poverty and homelessness go from hungry to hopeful.
By supporting a meal at Father Joe’s Villages, you are not only filling an empty stomach. You are helping neighbors like Alejandro change their lives. Give today to alleviate hunger and build a brighter future in San Diego. Visit my.neighbor.org or call 1-619-HOMELESS.