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Handling Hunger With Care

A pair of Lemon Grove churches provide more than hope for the needy.

Lemon Grove is a Goldilocks city. The temperature is not too hot, and not too cold. The population, at around 25,000, is not too big, nor too small. I used to surmise the town was neither too rich nor poor until I checked the facts recently.

According to the latest U.S. Census reports, nearly 20 percent of people in the Grove are living below the government poverty level. Our rate is five percent higher than it is in the rest of San Diego County. Even worse, the local poverty estimate for those under eighteen years of age is a staggering 31 percent.

The good news is the city has some guardian angels helping to feed the hungry. The Samoa Independent Full Gospel Church, in partnership with the Lemon Grove Lutheran Church, distributes free food twice a month at their Skyline Drive location. The first Friday of each month is for Grove residents only, and on the last Friday of the month everyone is welcome. The doors open at 9 a.m. and stay open until the food is all gone—which is usually before noon.

The churches also offer a food pantry, which the needy can visit up to three times a month. It is open most mornings for packaged food, canned items, and even diapers.

In addition, there are free soup suppers every Monday, serving several hundred people each week. When I was there yesterday morning, volunteers were busy slicing fresh vegetables to be added to the evening’s chicken soup. The flavor of the soup changes weekly, and a substantial buffet is offered along with what’s in the pot.

When diners leave, they can choose from a large selection of produce, baked goods, and other perishable items to take home with them. This week’s items were acquired from Albertsons. Boxes and boxes, grouped by type of food, are laid out on long tables in the courtyard. I was told that by the end of the evening, everything would be gone.

One of the other hats I wear is as a fundraiser for KPBS television, so here is my pitch to you. This is a very well-managed charity in our community, and it deserves our financial support. I am not talking about donating cans of green beans that have been hanging out for too long in your pantry. Good intentions are nice, but if you can afford it, I am asking you to contribute money to help the community feed the hungry.

Money is best because it allows charities to buy the types of food they know their clients need, and have access to obtain bulk food at a fraction of the price we would pay. Plus a monetary donation is simpler for tax purposes for you.

Here is a Patch story that ran early this year, with more information and donation links to the churches. The Samoa Independent Full Gospel Church and the Lemon Grove Lutheran Church are located at 2055 Skyline Drive in Lemon Grove.

If we all help, like the Goldilocks story, we can make Lemon Grove “just right.”

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