Grossmont College, Kitchens for Good partner to feed students
Grossmont College has announced a new partnership with San Diego-based nonprofit Kitchens for Good to provide free fresh meals to students each week. The East County community college is the first to become a Project Nourish College partner. Its first distribution took place from noon-2 p.m. on Oct. 29.
“We know that the pandemic has deeply affected community college students’ families and their livelihoods. From rent to food, many of our students are having a difficult time making ends meet,” said Marsha Gable, Grossmont College vice president of Student Services. “We hope that this new partnership can help provide some relief to our students so that they can continue to transform their lives through education.”
Each Thursday this fall semester, staff and faculty volunteers with Gizmo’s Kitchen, the college’s student pantry, will help distribute fresh meals prepared by Kitchens for Good that can be reheated at a later time. To qualify, students must be currently enrolled and register in advance online. While these meals are not suitable for families, organizers hope that the meals will help students stretch their food budgets each week. The college initially plans to distribute meals to 60 students each week, with students required to sign up and qualify prior to each week’s distribution event.
Since classes started in late August, Gizmo’s Kitchen has partnered with the Jacobs & Cushman San Diego Food Bank on monthly distributions of fresh and non-perishable foods. In September, the event provided food for 175 students; the October event supported 200 students. Additional monthly distributions are already scheduled for November and December; students must also register in advance for these distributions. Prior to COVID-19, Gizmo’s Kitchen provided thousands of students annually with individual grab-and-go bags of non-perishable foods and coordinated Jacobs & Cushman San Diego Food Bank-sponsored campus food distributions.
City Council expands homeless outreach, affordable housing programs
On Oct. 27, The City Council voted unanimously to build on a pilot program that uses case managers to forge relationships with unsheltered residents and connect them with permanent housing and social services.
The new Coordinated Street Outreach Program will be funded from a $1.5-million budget allocation that City Council President Georgette Gómez and Council member Monica Montgomery Steppe fought for during this year’s budget negotiations. The new initiative effectively takes a pilot program that Gómez and Council member Chris Ward partnered on in City Heights and North Park and expands it to other neighborhoods.
“Today, the City Council took a big step forward in how we create meaningful relationships with residents living on the streets and connect them with permanent homes and the services they need to stay housed,” Gómez said. “We’ve seen from our pilot project in Mid-City that this model – using case managers rather police officers to establish trust with vulnerable residents – really works. This program is a critical piece of our much-improved and better-coordinated effort to reduce the number of unsheltered San Diegans.”
Up to now, street outreach has often been left to police officers. However, some unsheltered residents are uncomfortable with encounters with law enforcement. The Coordinated Street Outreach Program offers a new paradigm.
The program will be administered through the San Diego Housing Commission and operated by People Assisting the Homeless (PATH) San Diego. The program will run from Nov. 1, 2020, through June 30, 2021. The Housing Commission will have the option to renew the program with PATH for another year – July 1, 2021, through June 30, 2022.
Also on Oct. 27, the City Council approved a set of initial strategies to preserve San Diego’s existing inventory of affordable housing – both naturally occurring affordable housing and subsidized affordable housing. The strategies emerged from a landmark study – “Preserving Affordable Housing in the City of San Diego” – released in May by the Housing Commission.
The approved strategies include redirecting funds originally associated with the City’s Redevelopment Agency to fund preservation, adopt a Preservation Ordinance to strengthen and expand the rights granted by state preservation notice law, offering incentives to owners of unrestricted properties in exchange for affordability restrictions, providing seed funding to create a public-private Affordable Housing Preservation Fund, and creating an interagency preservation working group.
The new outreach program and the housing-preservation efforts are part of a growing list of initiatives aimed at reducing homelessness and increasing San Diego’s supply of affordable housing, included in the 2017 Housing Action Plan and supported by the current City Council. Those efforts also include:
- Strengthening San Diego’s Inclusionary Housing Ordinance to provide more affordable housing
- Encouraging development of granny flats and allowing movable tiny homes
- Updating the surplus land policy to emphasize affordable housing
- Converting hotel rooms to permanent supportive housing units
“This is a comprehensive approach to expanding access to affordable homes,” Gómez said. “I am extremely proud of what this Council has accomplished.”
Grossmont Healthcare District CEO announces retirement
The Grossmont Healthcare District (GHD) announced the pending retirement of Chief Executive Officer Barry Jantz, who will be leaving the district March 31, 2021 after serving as CEO since 2004.
Jantz previously served as a community relations consultant, managing the district’s annual grants program. In his years as CEO of the district, he led the effort to complete over $260 million in Proposition G improvements at Grossmont Hospital, as well as a successful 2014 ballot measure to continue the lease of the hospital to Sharp HealthCare until 2051.
“We very much appreciate Barry’s leadership in maintaining the integrity of the public-private partnership between GHD and Sharp HealthCare to operate Sharp Grossmont Hospital,” said GHD Board President Randy Lenac.
“My time with GHD has been amazing,” said Jantz. “Seeing the $265 million in Prop G improvements completed at Sharp Grossmont Hospital was among my personal and professional highlights, as it finalized about 14 years of intense work that will remain a lasting benefit to the community.”
The GHD board is currently finalizing the executive search process.
Aztecs for Life blood drive
For the fourth consecutive year, San Diego State University (SDSU) and the American Red Cross are teaming up to help hospital patients through the Aztecs for Life blood drive. The San Diego community is invited to join Aztecs at a blood drive Tuesday, Nov. 17, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. at a new location: Pechanga Arena, 3500 Sports Arena Blvd. The blood collected at Aztecs for Life blood drives has helped ensure cancer patients, trauma victims, surgery patients and others receive the blood products they need.
“This school year may look different but the need for blood donations remains constant,” said Steve Schnall, executive associate athletic director, San Diego State University. “One great way to help our community is to roll up a sleeve and ensure that hospital patients have the blood products they need.”
Each Red Cross blood drive and donation center follows the highest standards of safety and infection control, and additional precautions – including temperature checks, social distancing and face coverings for donors and staff – have been implemented to help protect the health of all those in attendance. Donors are asked to schedule an appointment prior to arriving at the drive and are required to wear a face covering or mask while at the drive, in alignment with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention public guidance.
The Red Cross is also testing blood donations for COVID-19 antibodies. The test may indicate if the donor’s immune system has produced antibodies to this coronavirus, regardless of whether an individual developed COVID-19 symptoms. Red Cross antibody tests will be helpful to identify individuals who have COVID-19 antibodies and may now help current coronavirus patients in need of convalescent plasma transfusions.
COVID-19 antibody test results will be available within one to two weeks in the Red Cross Blood Donor App or donor portal at RedCrossBlood.org. A positive antibody test result does not confirm infection or immunity.
Appointments are required and can be made by downloading the free Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or enabling the Blood Donor Skill on any Alexa Echo device, and using sponsor code aztecs.
As thanks, those who come to donate blood will receive a T-shirt and other give-aways including, a free meal gift card, courtesy of Raising Cane’s, and a Woodstock’s Pizza discount coupon, while supplies last.