San Diego Sixth Annual “Stuff the Bus” Holiday Food Drive Kicks Off in October

To help feed thousands of hungry San Diegans this holiday season, the Sixth Annual “Stuff the Bus” food drive will be held Saturday, October 26, 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. at six North County locations and 13 throughout the rest of the county. The event is hosted by the North County Transit District (NCTD), the Metropolitan Transit System (MTS), Albertsons, the Armed Services YMCA, Girl Scouts San Diego, and the Jacobs & Cushman San Diego Food Bank.

Feeding the hungry in San Diego goes beyond feeding the homeless, and extends to many local families including military families. On average, the Food Bank feeds 320,000 people every month. In fiscal year 2012, the Food Bank distributed nearly 20 million pounds of food, which is the equivalent of 16.6 million meals.

This year, “Stuff the Bus” organizers are challenging the community to help meet the food drive’s goal of collecting enough donations to provide 19,000 meals to surpass last year’s tally of more than 12,000 meals. NCTD and MTS will park 19 40-foot long buses that can each hold enough food for 1,000 meals in front of 17 Albertsons stores and two area Girl Scout headquarters.

“It is exceptional that so many organizations have joined to help battle hunger in San Diego,” said James A. Floros, president & CEO of the Jacobs & Cushman San Diego Food Bank. “Tens of thousands of families will rely on the Food Bank this holiday season, and we need the community’s support to be able to serve individuals and families in need. We are encouraging the community to donate at this year’s food drive to help us fulfill our mission this holiday season.”

A new partner to this year’s food drive is Girl Scouts San Diego. Girl Scouts will be at each location to provide lists of needed food items and thank donors for their generosity. All participating Girl Scouts will earn an exclusive badge on hunger and troops will participate in educational and age-appropriate activities to learn more about food, hunger and healthy eating habits.

“For more than a century, Girl Scouts have been helping those in need and making our community a better place,” said Jo Dee C. Jacob, CEO of Girl Scouts San Diego. “We anticipate that thousands of Girl Scouts will participate in ‘Stuff the Bus’ on Oct. 26, and encourage their friends and neighbors to join us in this important service project.”

When the food drive ends at 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 26, the buses will caravan to the Food Bank where military volunteers from the Armed Services YMCA will unload each bus.

"We are proud to once again do our part for this event and to lend a helping hand to the San Diego Food Bank with a group of military volunteers,” said Paul Steffens, U.S. Navy captain, retired, and executive director of the ASY San Diego. “This event is a great way for the community to help others, especially local military families who need it to help them stretch their paychecks."

In addition to the 19 designated collections sites, all 41 Albertsons stores in the county will have lists and displays of needed items along with barrels shoppers can fill with donations that will also be used to stuff the buses. Barrels will be available for stuffing at all stores starting on Monday, October 21.

"Albertsons and its San Diego operators are proud to support this drive,” noted Wendy Oliver, vice president of operations for Albertsons Southern California Division. “The fight against hunger is an ongoing concern and we're so thankful that our customers are joining our efforts to ensure that all San Diego families have enough to eat."

“We are proud to participate in this regional effort,” Mark Packard, vice-chair of the NCTD Board of Directors stated. “This is the season when families have the biggest need, and as a public agency, NCTD welcomes the opportunity to join the community to help ensure no one goes hungry. Every single donation helps.”

“MTS initiated this partnership six year ago to help families in need have food to eat during the holidays,” said Paul Jablonski, chief executive officer of MTS. “Albertsons commitment to this program is outstanding, and this year, with the addition of the Girl Scouts to our lineup of partners, I am  confident that the people of San Diego will support the Food Bank in record numbers.”