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NEWS // October 31, 2014

National Food Day Event Minimizes Access-Barriers for Vista Residents

With only one major super market in the neighborhood, healthy food choices are slim for the Townsite neighborhood residents of Vista. Not only is healthy food difficult to access geographically in this community, but also financially. Knowing that this is an issue, local residents and Vista Community Clinic in partnership with Feeding America, designated a mobile food pantry site in Vista.

For the past three years, twice a month, hundreds of community members line up around the block to receive food at a local church. Each year in October, an interactive and informational health fair is paired with the food distribution in honor of Food Day. Celebrated throughout San Diego County, Food Day is a nationwide event that serves to highlight the need for healthy, affordable and sustainable food.

On October 28, 2014, the CX3 (Communities of Excellence in Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity Prevention) residents of Vista, in partnership with the County of San Diego Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA), planned and organized their third Food Day celebration which helped provide food for over 200 families. In order to address the social factors contributing to food insecurity, this year’s Food Day celebration was centered on linking the high-need community with a variety of health resources.

Participants were able to get blood pressure readings, participate in mental health screenings, listen to a diabetes presentation and learn about the Rethink Your Drink campaign. In addition, resources on Covered California and CalFresh were available.  The participants were not the only ones getting valuable information.  This event provided insight to service providers on the community’s growing need for mental health services.

Community members lined up for the Check Your Mood booth, which was administering surveys to assess for recent symptoms of depression. An astonishing 93 individuals were assessed with an alarming number scoring higher on the scale, indicating an immediate need for intervention.  Many were referred to a mental health professional on site and this response indicates that food insecurity and mental health issues are not isolated problems –a concern that the CX3 residents, Vista Community Clinic and HHSA together plan to address in this community.