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Residents of a San Diego Salvation Army shelter were tasked with one important mission two years ago: to rescue food throughout the San Diego area that otherwise would have ended up in the landfill.
Ever since, these food rescue route drivers have rescued and delivered over 500,000 pounds of perfectly viable food to those in need, Lucky Duck Foundation Executive Director Drew Moser told Fox News.
The entire initiative is being funded by the Lucky Duck Foundation, which has been working to alleviate the suffering of San Diego County’s homeless population since 2017.
Moser said the foundation funds, activates and leads collaborative programs that “make a difference.”
In 2020, the foundation teamed up with the Salvation Army and Feeding San Diego to leverage each other’s strengths and do just that.
Feeding San Diego has a long history of rescuing high-quality food throughout the area.
“Feeding San Diego rescues high-quality food before it goes to waste from over 400 locations in San Diego County and over 225 farms and packing sheds throughout California,” according to the organization’s website.
Meanwhile, the Salvation Army has a “desire to connect their shelter residents to meaningful employment opportunities,” Moser said.
It seemed like the perfect fit.
For the past two years, Salvation Army in downtown San Diego has paid some of its residents $16 an hour to become food rescue drivers to help them gain employment experience.
They are trained to operate routes provided by Feeding San Diego and rescue food before it’s wasted.
They stop at grocery stores and warehouses all over San Diego, such as Costco, Smart & Final, Starbucks and Amazon, and drop it off at Salvation Army shelters in downtown San Diego and Escondido as well as Oceanside in North San Diego County.
The goal, according to Moser, is to give them enough experience, so they can eventually pay for their own housing and even gain full-time employment.
Moser said in many ways this program is a “stepping stone,” that’s setting them up “for bigger and better things down the road.”
So far, it’s proven to be successful.
“A year ago today, I was needing these services and now I’m able to provide those services to others. And I am able to provide for my family,” Emiliano, a food rescue driver, told Fox News.
To date, all 10 of the Salvation Army residents who have participated in the program have not only secured full-time employment but have also found their own housing.
“Coming from the street, I know how it feels to be down and out and now I get to help people who are in that spot,” another driver named Daniel told Fox News. “It is a double bonus because this program gave me a place to live and a job.”
The Lucky Duck Foundation initially poured $1 million into the program.
However, because its generated such strong results, they plan to invest another $1 million to expand the program.