Photo courtesy of Aztecs Rock Hunger.

San Diego State University’s annual Aztecs Rock Hunger food drive collected 344,137 pounds for The Jacobs & Cushman San Diego Food Bank, it was announced Thursday.

The demand for food distribution in San Diego County remains at an all- time high. Prior to the pandemic, the San Diego Food Bank served 350,000 people each month. Since March, the number of people served monthly has spiked to an estimated 600,000.

“This year’s campaign was a testament to what SDSU and San Diego is all about,” said Associated Students Vice President of Financial Affairs Victor Penera. “No matter the situation, we continued to adapt and overcome because we understood that now more than ever our community needed us.”

Between Sept. 28 and Oct. 18, SDSU’s community was invited to donate virtually on the Aztecs Rock Hunger website. Donations were also accepted via Venmo, in-person at on-campus Starbucks, eateries and markets and also at local businesses in the College Area.

The campaign also featured two new virtual events, including the Aztecs Rock Hunger Virtual 5K and the faculty and staff-led “Get Together, Give Back” event, which raised $5,000 in one hour.

“We extend our heartfelt gratitude to the students, faculty and administration at San Diego State University for supporting the food bank during this unprecedented public health crisis that has had a devastating impact on our community and local economy forcing tens of thousands of families to seek help from the food bank,” said James Floros, the Jacobs & Cushman San Diego Food Bank president and CEO.

“With record unemployment, skyrocketing food insecurity and the holidays around the corner, food drive donations will be critical to the food bank this year since we are currently feeding nearly 600,000 people per month due to the pandemic and soaring need,” Floros said.

Aztecs Rock Hunger is an initiative led by Associated Students in collaboration with several partners both on- and off-campus. Since 2010, Aztecs Rock Hunger has raised 3.3 million pounds of food for the San Diego Food Bank.

Aztecs Rock Hunger also directly assists SDSU students. The food and monetary donations collected through the campaign provide the food, including fresh produce for the A.S. Food Pantry, which provides an average of 100,000 pounds of food each year to SDSU students.

Additionally, 20% of the monetary donations go directly to SDSU’s Economic Crisis Response Team. The team uses the donations to provide short- term and long-term aid to students experiencing a crisis, including food insecurity. In fall 2019, the team served about 200 students. Since March 2020, the team has served more than 1,200 students.

— City News Service