Created in 2004, this program is open to low-income, HIV positive residents of San Diego County who are healthy enough to not require meal deliveries, but whose health would benefit from a free grocery supplement once a month. In 2012, 774 pantry shoppers received enough pantry food to total 102,410 meals.
Mama’s Pantry is a self-referral program, and individuals can begin shopping upon verifying their HIV diagnosis, income, and residency in San Diego County; every six months they must recertify their eligibility.
In 2012, Mama’s Pantry installed refrigeration units to offer frozen chicken, ground beef, and dairy products along with other perishable items, making it unique among food pantries in San Diego County. In 2013, we hired a part-time registered dietician to educate pantry shoppers on the connection between the food they select, eating healthy, and taking HIV medications.
We measure the effectiveness of our pantry with an annual survey of all active shoppers. The following quote from a pantry shopper illustrates the need to be met by this program:
“If it had not been for Mama’s Pantry, it would be difficult to make my food sources. They really have the best selection of food items and I like the fact that I can choose my own items instead of being forced with what might be available.”