Will McHenry, director of food procurement & distribution for the Jacobs & Cushman San Diego Food Bank, sits near an internal window overlooking the organization’s vast warehouse in central San Diego.
McHenry recollects the genesis of the Food Bank’s relationship with Vons, part of the Safeway family of supermarkets. “We established a formal partnership with Vons in 2007 right before the recession hit,” says McHenry. “It couldn’t have been better timing because Vons has been one of our biggest supporters over the past five years, during a period of severely heightened need in our community.”
Since 2007, Vons has donated 3.2 million pounds of food to the Food Bank and collected nearly 900,000 pounds more through in-store food drives. In total, Vons is responsible for donating more than 4.1 million pounds of food to the Food Bank which is currently feeding, on average, more than 350,000 people per month in communities throughout San Diego County.
“They donate top quality food which happens to be near the expiration date or is in packaging that has cosmetic damage and can’t be sold,” continues McHenry. “We are very grateful for the partnership. Vons has helped us feed thousands and thousands of people every month.”
Vons’ support for the Food Bank also includes sponsoring major countywide food drive campaigns held over the summer and holiday seasons. Lori Raya, president of the Vons division of Safeway explains, “We wanted to be innovative in this area. Last year, Vons offered pre-packed bags with the Food Bank’s ‘most needed food’ items next to the checkouts for $10 per bag. This made it so much easier for people to donate, and we were able to triple the amount of food collected for the Food Bank the first year we tried it.”
Asked why Vons has been such a big supporter of the Food Bank, Raya responds, “The economy has made life difficult for many San Diegans, and our company firmly believes in giving back to the community through a number of charitable causes. As a food retailer, the Food Bank’s mission is very closely aligned to our own which is why we are proud to be able to support the Food Bank’s important work, and we look forward to continuing our partnership for many years to come.”