The Coast News Group

Northbound: Everday efforts in feeding North County

This Thanksgiving, I want to highlight the everyday efforts to feed at-need families in North County, and show how we can all make a positive impact locally this holiday season.

Despite our reputation, economic wealth and opportunity doesn’t reach every part of North County.

Much of our poverty is “hidden” in suburban enclaves, and out of public view. The numbers may surprise you.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, from 2000 to 2014, the population living under the federal poverty rate (about $24,000 for a family of four) in Escondido increased from 6.4 percent to nearly 20 percent. In my city of Carlsbad, the poverty rate was just under 6 percent in 2000, but by 2014 more than 10 percent of the population fell below the poverty line.

There’s an incredible amount of need in our community — homelessness, unemployment, and families living paycheck to paycheck.

As we approach the holiday season, my social media feeds have been full of friends’ photos of charitable turkey giveaways and donation drives in other parts of the county, which had me pondering, who’s doing the same work in North County?

Previously in my column, I featured Interfaith Community Services (ICS), North County’s largest nonprofit social service organization, and their work in sheltering the homeless in North County and securing transitional housing.

Only this week did I learn that ICS also served over 1 million meals to North County residents in 2015! What an extraordinary undertaking.

Cooking up hot breakfasts from their kitchen in Escondido, distributing sack lunches and emergency food supplies to those who need them, seven days a week is at the core of ICS’s mission of serving North County.

This year, they’ll also be serving Thanksgiving dinners to hundreds of clients across two days.

As the need continues to rise in North County, so too does the need for donations and volunteers.

The ICS food pantry is in need of donations, particularly for canned meat and fish, chili, vegetables, soup, and macaroni and cheese. Cash donations and volunteers are always welcome.

In big and small ways, let’s all do our part to help at-need community members, restore human dignity, and share compassion this holiday season.

I encourage you to join me and support the work of Interfaith Community Services. For more information on volunteering, and making a cash or food donation, visit

Vince Vasquez is an economist based in Torrey Pines. He is a Carlsbad resident.