CARLSBAD — Spring is not typically associated with food drives.
Those are primarily highlighted during the winter holiday season when charitable giving is at its peak. But on March 2, the Carlsbad Hi-Noon Rotary Club packaged 10,000 meals at the Westin Carlsbad to benefit a trio of organizations servicing the homeless and food insecure individuals in North County.
Wendy Wiegand, president of the afternoon club, said the springtime drive was intentional as food banks and homeless service providers traditionally see less food donations than in winter.
“There’s all kinds of food drives that go on in the winter, but the problem is for homeless and food deprived people it happens all year long,” Wiegand said. “So, that was one of the strategies to do this in the spring when those food banks and shelters are not getting the supply that they are around the holidays.”
The drive took about a year to organize as the club reached out to a number of nonprofits before partnering with La Posada of Carlsbad, Bread of Life in Oceanside and Vista-based Solutions for Change.
All three work with the homeless in a variety of capacities while also offering food assistance programs to deliver meals to those in need.
At least 50 Rotarians lined five tables to pack the tomato basil pasta-based meals. The food included pasta, a soy-based protein and a flavor pack. Each package holds six servings, according to Chris Romero of The Outreach Program, which secured the donated food.
“Homelessness is a big issue, as we all know,” Wiegand said. “We thought we’d do something different … and do a meal packaging program.”
The packages were then heated, sealed and ready to be distributed. Also, he said, the meals are designed to include fresh produce, making for a healthier option.
Alan Lauer, president of Bread of Life and a senior pastor, said his organization has been serving the homeless since 1999. The nonprofit serves more than 1,500 people per week and incorporates food programs through a monthly food box program, which reaches at least 1,000 people per month.
They also offer drug and alcohol programs, counseling, housing opportunities, job placement and a yearlong job training service. The pantry is open Monday through Wednesday and Friday, Lauer said.
“We feed people six nights a week,” he added. “Various Rotaries have partnered with us over the years and we are always appreciative of what they do for us. They open up their hearts to us.”
The all-volunteer La Posada provides shelter for homeless men and farm workers, which also includes providing tools for money management, language instruction, and drug and alcohol counseling. La Posada also provides medical screening and assistance in finding jobs and permanent housing, according to the website.
Solutions for Change incorporates a variety of programs to find permanent housing, rental assistance, food programs and more. They provide individuals and families access to opportunities and equipping them with the skills, knowledge and resources needed to permanently solve their homelessness.
The three pillars include Solutions University with its programs; Solutions Enterprises, a collection of social enterprise programs empowering residents to learn and earn; and Solutions in the Community, the investment by the residents of their time and effort to help the community of which they are a part.