San Diego State University’s iconic Hepner Hall. Photo by Chris Stone

Due to the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, San Diego State University’s Aztecs Rock Hunger campaign is returning Sept. 28- Oct. 18 in a virtual format to combat food insecurity on campus and across San Diego County.

The university-wide campaign, led by SDSU Associated Students is working in partnership with The Jacobs & Cushman San Diego Food Bank.

“On behalf of the San Diego Food Bank’s staff, the board of directors and family of volunteers, we extend our heartfelt gratitude to San Diego State University’s students, faculty, alumni, and staff who are joining together to collect virtual food and monetary donations for the Food Bank’s hunger-relief programs,” said Jacobs & Cushman San Diego Food Bank President & CEO James Floros. “All food collected will provide food assistance to economically distressed families, students and seniors impacted by the Coronavirus pandemic. On behalf of those we serve, we honor this amazing decade-long partnership with SDSU and its support for our vital mission in the community.”

According to the 2019 San Diego County Food Insecurity Report, of San Diego County’s 3.2 million residents, 450,000 people face food insecurity every day. Of this number, 177,000 are children.

The pandemic has increased the demand for food distribution. Before 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.

Since 2010, Aztecs Rock Hunger has raised 3.3 million pounds of food for the San Diego Food Bank. In 2020 the campaign hopes to raise 650,000 pounds of food through non-perishable food and monetary donations. Every $1 donation can purchase six pounds of food.

“Food insecurity is an issue that’s extremely prevalent not only on college campuses but also in our San Diego community,” said A.S. Vice President of Financial Affairs Victor Penera. “The pandemic has highlighted that food insecurity is not an issue unique to one demographic. It affects all of us.”

Aztecs Rock Hunger also assists SDSU students with 20% of the monetary donations going directly to SDSU’s Economic Crisis Response Team. The ECRT uses donations to provide short-term and long-term aid to students experiencing a crisis including food insecurity.

Since March, the university community has rallied together to raise more than $75,000 for the ECRT to assist students impacted by the pandemic. In fall 2019, the ECRT served about 200 students. This year, from March to September, the team served 1,200 students.

Additionally, the food and monetary donations collected through the campaign provides the food, including fresh produce given to SDSU students at the A.S. Food Pantry, which gives out an average of 100 pounds of food each year.

The primarily virtual campaign offers three ways to donate:

  1. Donate online at sdsu.edu/aztecsrockhunger
  2. Venmo @aztecsrockhunger2020
  3. At SDSU campus Starbucks, eateries, and markets

Also, several new events will be offered to increase participation during the campaign. The Aztecs Rock Hunger Virtual 5K will take place between Oct. 10-18. Participants may also donate to local businesses in the College Area.

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