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COVID-19 Community Resource Guide: How to Access Free Food, Health Care & Other Services in San Diego County

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Whether you’ve lost your job, had your hours cut, or are facing other challenges due to COVID-19, there are resources available to help you get through the coming weeks.

Below, we have compiled a list of resources for accessing food, financial, housing, and health benefits.

Information is quickly changing, often within hours, but this list accurately reflects resources available at the time of publication. We will continue to update this list as necessary to reflect the latest information available.

If you have updates or new information, please email trisha@ediblesandiego.com.

How to Access Meals and Ingredients

As of now, food banks and pantries are under a lot of pressure to provide food to those who need it, while taking extra precautions to limit any spread of the virus by using gloves and practicing social distancing. If you are healthy, and not a member of a vulnerable population, you may be able to volunteer, and/or donate. ANYONE who is in need can pick up from the food banks. Special meal programs are also available for children and the elderly.

Grocery Shopping and Delivery for Seniors

Monica and Milano Sliwa shop and deliver in the San Diego area to seniors 65+ who are unable to shop for themselves. They speak English, Chaldean, Arabic, and Assyrian Neo-Aramaic. Email: milanosliwa21@gmail.com

Emergency Nutrition, Diaper Bank and Mobile Shower Site

Community Through Hope will be open for drive-thru emergency services only. Drive-thru hours will be Tuesday through Thursday from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m., with the line starting to form at 7:30 a.m. Visit communitythroughhope.org

Stay Home SD - San Diego Grocery Assistance Program for the Elderly

If you are over 65, live in San Diego, and need basic necessities, please fill out this form, or call us at (619) 800-3252, and they will get them to you as best as they can!

San Diego Food Bank

There have over 200 distribution sites throughout the county, and are taking extra precautions for COVID-19. Visit their website for locations, or you can also call the Food Bank’s toll free number: 1-866-350-FOOD (3663).

Feeding San Diego

Click here for food distribution sites. Anyone is welcome to pick-up what they need. They are also implementing drive-thru and drop-and-go models.

Free Grocery Delivery Service for Senior sand Immune Compromised Individuals in Northeast County

Foundation for Senior Care is utilizing their existing Care Vans and Care Advocate staff to become a full-time emergency grocery delivery service for those over 65, disabled or are otherwise immune-compromised. All at no charge. They are offering this service to seniors in Fallbrook, De Luz, Rainbow, and Bonsall. Call 760-723-7570 for more information.

National School Lunch and Breakfast Programs

Schools in San Diego are currently closed, and many are providing breakfast and/or lunch in a grab-and-go takeaway format.

Eligibility: Meals are available for children, between the ages of 2-18. You do not need an ID, verification, or registration to pick up meals. Children must be present in order to receive the meals, and you can show up at any school listed, regardless if your child is a student there. Click here for an updated list from the County Office of Education on which schools are providing meals.

Mama’s Kitchen

Mama’s Kitchen has a pantry and offers delivered meals to those diagnosed with a critical illness, and dependents under 17 years of age. In order to qualify, you must have a medical provider (MD, NP, PA, RD, RN or LCSW) fill out a referral form, which is followed by an intake call before they can begin delivery. Click here for more information. Their pantry is also available to those who are HIV positive and whose income does not exceed $1700 a month. A referral is not needed, but you must provide proof of your medical status, finances, and that you are a San Diego resident. The pantry is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. Click here for more information.

Jewish Family Services (JFS)

JFS has modified their Corner Market and Hand Up Food Pantry into a drive-thru service where the community can access pre-bagged pantry staples and fresh produce on weekdays from 11:00am to 1:00pm.

JFS are still currently operating their Foodmobile, which delivers discounted meals to those over the age of 60, and/or to those with disabilities. You must call (858) 637-3210 to apply, or apply online. They also offer other programs, such as transportation, case management, patient advocacy, refugee resettlement,  migrant family shelter, safe parking program, immigration services and much more.

METL SD

METL has created a free meal program for any restaurant and hospitality workers who are currently unemployed due to recent restaurant layoffs and shutdowns. Apply here.

It’s All About The Kids (IAATK)

The Feed The Kids Food Pantry is still operating as normal. However, they are only able to serve existing registered families at this time.

Meals on Wheels

For those over 60 years of age, and/or their caretakers, as well as disabled veterans of any age who need discounted meals delivered. They also accept EBT/SNAP. Please apply here.

Mountain Health’s Home Delivery Senior Meal Program

Discounted meals that are delivered to seniors, 60 years of age or older, who live in either Alpine, Campo, Jacumba, Boulevard, or Potrero. For additional information, please call 619-445-6200 ext. 500.

Serving Seniors

Delivers discounted meals to homebound seniors, five days a week. Call 2-1-1, or visit their website for additional food distribution sites or call your regional office to apply:

CalFresh/SNAP (Food Stamps/EBT)

You can apply online in just 10 minutes, and typically receive benefits within a month if you qualify. Benefits include $192 a month per household member on one EBT card. If you already have an EBT card, please note that grocery stores and restaurants that are open will continue to accept it as a form of payment. Click here for Farmers Markets that accept EBT cards.  

3-day Expedited Service offered to:

  • Those who have an income less than $150, or less than $100 on hand
  • Those who have a combined monthly income and money on hand that are less than their household’s combined monthly rent and utilities
  • Migrant or seasonal farm workers who have less than $100 right now

Women Infants and Children (WIC)

WIC is a nutrition assistance program that provides benefits for healthy foods, nutrition education to parents, caregivers, as well as breastfeeding support, and referrals to community resources. They offer various food packages, which you receive a check for to purchase specific foods with. You may qualify if you’re low-income, and either pregnant, breastfeeding a baby under the age of one, had a baby in the last six months, have a child under the age of 5, or experienced pregnancy loss, or termination. You can call 1-800-500-6411, or apply online. Click here for Farmers Markets that accept WIC checks.

619 Spirits Distillery & Tasting Room in North Park is Providing Free Meals to San Diego Bar Industry Workers

The distillery and tasting room is hosting a free industry night every Monday, put on by local distilleries including 619 Spirits, Henebery Whiskey, Seven Caves, Copper Collar, and Malahat. They have all come together to provide the displaced San Diego bar industry workers with a free meal offered on Mondays from 2-8 PM at the tasting room. Every week they are providing 200-250 dinners (menu changes weekly), but if there is more demand than they will do their best to accommodate.

Pho Ca Dao & Grill (Multiple Locations) is Providing On-Duty First Responders Free Meals Each Day

As a gesture of thanks towards the dedicated healthcare workers, police officers, EMTs, and other first responders who have been working tirelessly to keep our community safe, Pho Ca Dao & Grill (PCD) will be offering free meals for on-duty first responders beginning Thursday, April 2nd. The meals will be offered at PCD’s Rancho Bernardo, Poway, Mission Valley, and Mira Mesa locations, and will be available to 50 first responders per day, through at least April 16th.
The meals will rotate daily, highlighting several different Chef’s choice dishes each day. To receive a free meal, first responders are invited to come in between 11:00 am and 8:00 pm and simply show their credentials, or be in uniform. First responders can also call ahead to have their meal waiting for them when they arrive.

The Village (North Park) is Providing Free Meals to Those Affected by COVID-19

The Village is providing meals to those in need who have been affected by COVID-19. Just contact them in advance. They said they will continue to stay open for take-out, just as long as people order, even if it's only those in need. They can also accomdate most allergy restrictions.

How to Get Relief From Bills

Internet Access

For those who need access to the internet for work, school, or in general, Comcast Internet Essentials is now available with the first two months free for qualified households. AT&T also has a low-cost internet package for qualifying households. In addition, many providers are announcing that they are waiving late fees, and/or won’t disconnect customers not paying bills on time.

Transportation through FACT (Facilitating Access to Coordinated Transportation)

FACT is offering free transportation services to various groups. Typically, their ride services are for a (reasonable) fare, however, as part of the COVID-19 response they are offering FREE rides to Seniors, persons with disabilities, students, veterans and other residents who need assistance.

To sign up, please call FACT at 888-924-3228 between 8am and 3pm, Monday through Friday, to request free transportation anywhere in San Diego County. This service is in place through 4/15.

San Diego Gas and Electric (SDG&E)

SDG&E has suspended disconnections for nonpayment until further notice and is waiving late payment fees for business customers whose finances were affected due to COVID-19. They do not charge residential customers late fees.

Financial Assistance Programs: SDG&E has a few different financial assistance programs in place, that you may qualify for. They offer a California Alternate Rates for Energy (CARE) program that offers a 30% or more monthly bill discount for those who participate in certain public assistance programs or meet the income requirement. If you do not qualify for CARE, you may qualify for Family Electric Rate Assistance (FERA) that provides an 18% monthly bill discount. It is only open to households of three, or more that meet the income requirement. Lastly, if you have a qualifying medical condition, or need special medical equipment at your home, you can apply for their Medical Baseline Allowance Program and receive a monthly bill discount.

Mortgage Relief

Governor Newsom announced mortgage relief for those affected by COVID-19. Most banks in California agreed to a 90-day grace period on mortgage payments. In addition, late payments will not be reported to credit agencies. There is no income requirement, however, property owners will have to prove that they were affected by the pandemic

Financial institutions will not initiate evictions or foreclosures for at least 60 days.

Mortgage and Rent (including HUD) and Utilities Payments

Governor Newsom has issued an executive order to allow local governments to protect renters and homeowners during the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes temporarily not issuing evictions, foreclosures, and utility shutoffs. This would not relieve tenants from having to pay rent at a future date. San Diego has yet to make a decision on this issue.

As of March 18th, Trump ordered HUD Housing to suspend evictions and foreclosures through April.

Currently, there are no nationwide resources to assist with these payments.

IRS Tax Deadlines

State and Federal taxes have both been extended three months, to June 15th. Fill out Form 4868 if you need an extension request, by April 15th.

Rental/Housing Assistance

Click here to view a directory of San Diego rental and housing agencies that can help you at this time.

Free Temporary Lodging

Free hotel lodging is available for Positive COVID-19 patients. Please call 858-715-2350 from 7am to 7pm, 7 days a week.

How to Access Financial Help in Case of Laid-Offs, Closures, or Quarantine

Sick or Quarantined - Disability Insurance (DI) Claim

If you have been diagnosed with COVID-19 by a medical professional, you are eligible to file a DI claim.

The one-week unpaid waiting period has been waived. If eligible, DI will provide you with short-term financial benefits, approximately 60-70% of your wages each week. Generally, the process takes about three weeks to complete and provide payment.

Click here to file a DI claim.

Caregivers - Paid Family Leave (PFL) Claim

If you are unable to work due to caring for someone ill, or someone who has been diagnosed by a medical professional with COVID-19, you are able to file a PFL claim.

PFL provides eight weeks of benefit payments to eligible workers who have a full or partial loss of wages due to their need to take time off from work to take care of a seriously ill family member, or bond with their newborn child. Benefits amount to approximately 60-70% of your wages each week. Generally, the process takes about three weeks to complete and provide payment.

Click here to file a PFL claim.

School Closures - Unemployment Insurance (UI) Benefits

If your children’s school is closed, and you have to miss work due to caring for them, then you might be eligible for UI Benefit.

To be considered, you must have no other care options, and must be unable to continue working your normal hours remotely.

Click here to file an Unemployment Insurance claim.

Reduced Work Hours - Unemployment Insurance (UI) Benefits

Those who have had their hours reduced, or who have lost their job due to COVID-19 closures, may be eligible for UI.

UI provides partial wage replacements, as long as you are able, available and ready to work during your unemployment each week. Eligible individuals can receive benefits that range from $40-$450 each week. The one-week unpaid waiting period has been waived, and it generally takes three weeks for claims to be processed.

Click here to file an Unemployment Insurance claim.

Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

Under the FMLA, covered employers must provide employees 12-weeks of job-protected, unpaid leave for specified family and medical reasons, which may include the flu.

Employees on FMLA leave are entitled to the continuation of group health insurance coverage under the same terms as existed before they took FMLA leave.

Click here to access FMLA forms.

Self-Employed - Disability Insurance Elective Coverage (DIEC) Program and PFL

To be eligible for DIEC or PFL as someone self-employed, you must have incurred injury, pregnancy, or illness (whether or not it is work-related). To qualify, either you, or an employer had to make contributions in the past 5 to 18 months. In addition, you must meet all of their other requirements. If you qualify, you may be able to receive up to 39 weeks of payments for your own disability. PFL provides up to 8 weeks of benefits when taking care of a seriously ill family member, or bonding with a new child. DIEC minimum weekly benefit amount is $50 and the maximum weekly benefit amount is $1,300.

If you would like an application, you can download or order it through the Online Forms and Publications page, or call 1-916-554-7104.

Help for Employers and Small Business Owners  

Moving Your Business Online/Out of Brick & Mortar

Square Online Store  is offering technology and resources for getting paid for curbside pickup and delivery. They released the option for curbside pickup, and later this week a local delivery feature will be available for all businesses so that you can quickly adapt to this changing environment. Square is also waiving curbside pickup and delivery fees for the next three months. Square Online Store already offers online orders for in-store pickup with no monthly fee. They’re also offering a resource hub with information and advice for businesses to navigate this new environment, which covers how to offer local delivery, set up and promote electronic gift cards, utilize free marketing campaigns, turn off signature requirements for in-person purchases, and more.

Small Business Administration (SBA) Loans for Small Businesses

SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loans offer up to $2 million in assistance to small businesses. These loans have been set up to provide economic support to small businesses to help them overcome the temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing.

For additional information, please contact the SBA disaster assistance customer service center. Call 1-800-659-2955 (TTY: 1-800-877-8339) or e-mail disastercustomerservice@sba.gov. You can also apply here.

Unemployment Insurance (UI) Work Sharing Program

If there has been a reduction in production, services or other conditions at your business that may lead to mandatory layoffs, employers can apply for the Work Sharing Program which helps employees whose hours and wages have been reduced receive UI benefits, keep their current job, and avoid financial hardships. This helps employers minimize or eliminate a need for layoffs, keep trained employees and quickly prepare for when business conditions improve, and avoid the cost of recruiting, hiring and training new employees. Employers must meet all of the qualifications in order to apply.

Apply for a Work Sharing plan by completing and mailing the Work Sharing (WS) Unemployment Insurance Plan Application (DE 8686) (PDF). If you need additional information on the Work Sharing Program, contact the EDD Special Claims Office at 916-464-3343.

Potential Closure or Layoffs - Rapid Response Program

Rapid Response program provides teams that will discuss your needs, and help avoid potential layoffs, and provide immediate on-site services to assist employees facing job losses.

For more information, refer to the Rapid Response Services for Businesses Fact Sheet (DE 87144RRB) (PDF) and contact your local American Job Center (there are currently five in San Diego) to get started.  

Employer Tax Assistance

Employers experiencing financial hardship as a result of COVID-19 may request a 60-day extension from the EDD to file their state payroll reports and/or deposit state payroll taxes without penalty or interest. Employers must send a written request for extensions within 60 days from the original delinquent date for the payment or return.

For questions, employers may call the EDD Taxpayer Assistance Center, at 1-888-745-3886.

Support from the Edible Community

The Edible San Diego community is dedicated to supporting small businesses, farms, coffee shops, and restaurants that we love. It's up to us to help. Let us know how we can best #LoveLocal, even without leaving the house, through the purchase of gift cards, delivery, online orders, and more. Please submit a listing here and we will add you to our resouce guide as soon as possible.

San Diego Sustainable Living Institute List of local/regional farms that are open.

Add listings by going to the bottom of the page and filling in form.

Eating and Drinking in San Diego Facebook Map

A FaceBook map of San Diego food businesses that are open and current limitations. To add a listing, go on FaceBook, ask to join Eating and Drinking in San Diego, then you’ll be able to access the map and add to it.

Free Small Business Guides from the San Diego and Imperial Small Business Development Center (SBDC)

A resource partner of the SBA and California Go-Biz that provides small business owners free guidance through your recovery process, including applying for disaster recovery loans. All services will temporarily be offered online. Please contact them here.

Crisis Communications Support through KCDR

The PR team at KCDR is offering pro-bono crisis communications support to all small business nonprofits. Fill out this form to get started.

South County Economic Development Center (SCEDC) Loans

The South County SCEDC has announced they are offering $5K loans at 0% interest rate to restaurants in the south county that have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. They are anticipating 50 loans will be provided for a total of $250,000 in economic relief. Please apply here.

Facebook Small Business Grants Program

Facebook plans to offer $100M ad credits and cash loans for up to 30,000 eligible small businesses in over 30 countries. Please visit their page for updated information.

San Diego Coalition COVID-19 Community Response Fund

A coalition of philanthropy, government and business partners has joined together to create the San Diego COVID-19 Community Response Fund to rapidly deploy flexible resources to community-based organizations at the frontlines of the coronavirus outbreak in San Diego County.

Grant funding will focus on three critical areas: food security, rental and utility assistance, and income replacement or gap funding. The Fund expects to move an initial round of grants within the next few weeks (dated 3/19/2020) with funds released on a rolling basis as fundraising continues through outbreak and recovery phases of the crisis, making it possible to move resources quickly and adapt to evolving needs.

If you are an organization and would like to receive funding, email: communityimpact@sdfoundation.org. To donate, go here.

Federal Disaster Loans for Businesses, Private Nonprofits, Homeowners, and Renters

Apply for a loan for economic reasons resulting in reduction or loss in business. In a nutshell, borrow up to $2 million at a special rate of 3.75% for terms up to 30 years. Most of California’s counties have been designated “disaster area.” Even if you currently have a federally-backed loan or LOC product, you ARE able to apply for this special loan, only for this special COVID-19 disaster relief program. More Disaster Loan Assistance here.

Financial Help for those in the Hospitality Industry

Another Round, Another Rally Fund

They are offering $500 relief grants for hospitality workers who lost their jobs or hours due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Apply Here.

USBG Bartender Emergency Assistance Program (BEAP)

For bartenders, or spouses, or children of bartenders. Note, you do not have to be a USBG member to apply. Apply Here.

One Fair Wage (OFW) Emergency Fund

This fund is providing free, cash assistance to restaurant workers, delivery drivers, and other service indrustry workers who's income has been been affected by the outbreak. Apply Here.

CORE Gives

CORE is offering grants that support to children of employees in the food and beverage industry. Apply here.

Restaurant Opportunities Center (ROC) United Disaster Relief

They are currently offering financial assistance to restaurant industry workers who have been affected by COVID-19. Click here to apply.

James Beard Foundation (JBF) Relief Fund

The JBF has created a fund to provided micro-grants to independent food and beverage buinesses in need. Please add your name to their contact list if you are interested in applying.

Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) for Small Businesses, Sole-Proprietors, and Non-Profits

This loan is direct from the US Federal Government and can be forgiveable for up to $10,000. The loan is for working capital to pay your business operational expenses, not to expand your business. It can be used to pay an owner their draw or wage for their living expenses. Small businesses, independent contractors, freelances, gig workers, home-based businesses, sole-proprietors, and non-profits can apply. Apply here.

Paycheck Protection Plan (PPP) for Small Business Owners, Sole Propieters and Non-Profits

This forgiveable loan is for small business owners, non-profits and sole propieters to pay their payroll expenses, mortgage, or rent. This loan is from banks or other lenders, and you should first reach out to your bank to see if they offer the program. Otherwise, you can find a lender here. Your business or 501(c)(3) must have in operation prior to February 15, 2020, and paid employees or paid independent contractors under 1099.  Loan amounts cannot exceed $10 million and are based on 2.5 times your average monthly payroll. Forgiveness of the loan would be done on demonstrated payroll, rent, mortgage, or utility costs made by the small business between Feb 15, 2020, and June 30, 2020.

How to Access Healthcare

Health Insurance and Medical Expenses

For those who do not have medical insurance, please visit Covered California to explore options, and to see if you qualify. If you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, please contact your health provider, or a nearby health center. At this time, there are centers that are testing for free.

To stay up to date with COVID-19 in San Diego, please visit the county’s website, here.

How Health Insurance Providers are Responding to COVID-19

Here is a list of health insurance providers in the USA, and how they are specifically taking action to help their members.

Telecare at Scripps

For Scripps Health patients, a hotline has been set up: 888-261-8431 (staffed 7 am – 9 pm).

Mental Health

A pandemic can place a strain on mental and emotional health. The CDC has created a resource page on Stress and Coping that you can find here. This includes helpful information for individuals, parents, responders, and children.

For those who need to talk to someone, here are various hotlines that are available:

Crisis Hotlines

Suicide Hotlines

Sexual Assault and Abuse Hotlines

Other Resources

Additional community resources are available by calling 2-1-1 or by going to the 2-1-1 website. Alternatively, you can text ‘cosdcovid19’ to 468311 to receive county updates and inquire about help.

ABOUT THE CONTRIBUTORS
Christina Kantzavelos
Christina Kantzavelos is a freelance writer, as well as the owner/editor of award-winning, gluten-free and health-conscious travel and lifestyle blog, @BuenQamino. She enjoys writing about food, travel, health, culture and sustainable-living in San Diego, and beyond.
more about this contributor
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