Grant to the San Diego Continuing Education Foundation will fund case management-style counseling, textbooks, food, transportation, workshops and paid internships for students 25 and older. Image via luckyduckfoundation.org

The Lucky Duck Foundation and Aqualia International Foundation Tuesday announced they have distributed more than 500,000 meals to people experiencing homelessness throughout the region during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The milestone was met less than a year after local philanthropist Gwendolyn Sontheim recognized the life-or-death situation facing unsheltered individuals during the crisis. In May 2020, Sontheim and Aqualia provided the financial support to enable The Lucky Duck Foundation to create the initiative.

At its inception, the program provided two meals per day, seven days per week, to 400 individuals per day and now serves more than 1,100 individuals per day.

“This food and water is nothing short of life-saving for the thousands of people experiencing homelessness in our region,” said Drew Moser, LDF executive director. “The partnership and coordination needed to scale this program to this magnitude exemplifies how this community can come together to help those in need.

“We are proud of the program’s reach and collaboration across more than 30 outreach teams, service providers, and agencies working diligently to address (homelessness),” Moser continued. “We are extremely grateful to Ms. Sontheim and our donors for making this high impact program possible.”

In addition to employing several homeless and formerly homeless individuals, LDF recently used the program’s network of outreach workers to distribute 3,000 sleeping bag coats in partnership with Aqualia. The program has distributed 5,000 COVID-19 prevention hygiene kits in partnership with the county of San Diego’s Health and Human Services Agency and 40,000 face masks.

Since 2005, the LDF has raised funds for numerous charitable causes throughout San Diego. In 2017, due to the growing homelessness epidemic, LDF pivoted to focus on providing aid and relief for individuals and families living without permanent housing.

–City News Service

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