'Stuff the Bus' to Stop San Diego Hunger

The Metropolitan Transit System and North County Transit District are teaming up again with Vons grocery stores for the 4th annual "Stuff the Bus" program that is part of the Jacobs & Cushman San Diego Food Bank's Holiday Food Drive to help San Diego families who have been hard hit by the economy. On Saturday, Dec. 10 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., MTS and NCTD buses will be stationed in the parking lots at 14 Vons grocery stores across San Diego County collecting nonperishable foods in paper or canned packaging. (The Food Bank cannot accept perishable items or items in glass jars due to food safety regulations.)

MTS Board Chair Harry Mathis says, "This is the fourth year that we've asked our staff, our riders and the public to help us 'stuff the buses' with much needed food. Last year they filled MTS buses with more than 10,000 pounds of food, and we are working to beat that record for this year!"

NCTD Board Chairman Chris Orlando says, "The number of people who need assistance continues to rise and they could be our friends, family and neighbors. This is why NCTD is taking part for the first time this year. We're hoping everyone can take time this weekend and come out to a neighborhood Vons to help us help them."

The Food Bank expects to distribute more than 20 million pounds of food by the end of this year – up from 15.3 million pounds last year. Food Bank CEO J. Scofield Hage says, "Each year since 2008 demand has grown exponentially, making food drives like 'Stuff the Bus' critical in making it possible for us to collect enough food."

The Food Bank will distribute food collected from the food drive to its 350 nonprofit distribution partners such as the Armed Services YMCA and Brother Bennos which provide to food to low-income military families. Armed Services YMCA Executive Director Paul Steffens says, "The Food Bank has made it possible through monthly food distributions, for thousands of military families to stretch their paychecks while coping with long deployment family separations.

MTS & NCTD 2011 STUFF-THE-BUS LOCATIONS – 9:00 am – 2:00 pm

· Carlsbad: 6951 El Camino Real

· Oceanside: 845 College Boulevard

· Chula Vista: 2250 Otay Lakes Road

· Pacific Beach: 1702 Garnet Avenue

· El Cajon: 1201 Avocado Avenue

· Rancho Bernardo: 11986 Bernardo Plaza

· Encinitas: 453 Santa Fe Drive

· Rancho Penasquitos: 13255 Black Mountain Road

· Escondido: 453 Santa Fe Drive

· Santee: 9643 Mission Gorge Road

· Normal Heights: 3610 Adams Avenue

· Scripps Ranch: 10675 Scripps Poway Parkway

· North Park: 4145 30th Street

· University City: 7788 Regents Road

Vons Vice President of Retail Operations John Piva and a SD Food Bank Board Member says, "Our stores are geared to help Stuff the Buses. Pre-packaged bags of the most needed types of food Items like canned meat and tuna, peanut butter, canned beans, pasta, dry cereal, canned soups, canned fruits and vegetables are available at the front of each store."

For those who want to donate, but can't make it to Vons to "Stuff the Bus," there's a virtual way to donate by texting "SDFBUS" to 20222 to donate $5 to the Jacobs & Cushman San Diego Food Bank. Five dollars equals 15 meals for the hungry in San Diego County. At 2:00 p.m., MTS and NCTD Buses will caravan to the Food Bank where Armed Services YMCA volunteers will be waiting to help unload.

The San Diego Metropolitan Transit System transports more than 80 million riders a year on over 80 bus routes and 53 miles of rail. For information on fares, routes, and schedules, or to plan a trip, visit www.sdmts.com or call 511.