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Food Ministry supported by dedicated volunteers, grocery store chain

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No one seems to know exactly when the church started picking up food donations from Trader Joe’s grocery store, but it is believed to be about 30 years ago.

Information suggests it was initiated by Arlene Johnson who was looking for food donations for use for the Thursday night dinners and sandwich ministry being done by the church. She had contacted several different markets and found that Trader Joe’s was willing to donate their outdated and over stocked products. Arlene made arrangements to have someone pick up these items
everyday of the week.

Tuesday was the day Arlene had picked for herself along with another helper. I am primarily aware of Tuesday as that was
when my wife Judy TenHulzen began helping. The food was sorted through by them along with the help of Denise Abell-Hove who took items to the church for the sandwich ministry and Thursday night dinners. The remaining items were taken to
God’s Extended Hand for use at their mission outreach program.

In this June 2017 photo, Arlene Johnson makes tuna and
chicken salad sandwiches as a part of the Sandwich Ministry.

Eventually, two cars were not enough to handle all the excess food and that’s when Judy began using our pickup truck. When
Arlene could no longer manage the process, Judy was then looking for help and I would take time off from work to assist. When Judy could no longer work due to her medical condition, I was tasked with this job and needed help. Occasionally one of my grandsons and/or son Jeffrey would fill in. I would soon enlist
the help of LeRoy Shigley who became a permanent helper.

Our average weekly load is between 20 to 30 boxes plus bags of bread and pastries. One day we had over 55 boxes and we had to make two trips. The most I ever put on the truck was 45 boxes with bags of bread tucked behind the seat. The average number of miles driven during a year is about 1,950. The average yearly
monetary value of the food donated by Trader Joe’s is nearly one million dollars.

Editor’s Note: Additional food donations from Trader Joe’s also comes in on Thursdays and is distributed to families and individuals in need on Friday mornings by L.C. Hall and a team of dedicated community volunteers. Occasionally, other businesses also donate food items. Our food ministries feed more than 10,000 San Diegans each year.

Interfaith Shelter starting in January

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The Clairemont branch of the San Diego Interfaith Shelter (IFS) program will begin on January 11, 2020 at St. David’s Episcopal Church.

IFS is a rotational shelter program which relies on communities’ church resources to provide a safe place for San Diego’s homeless to find shelter and food during the winter months while searching for work. The IFS is a program of the Ecumenical Council of San Diego and is supported by the City and County of San Diego. The guests are carefully screened by professional social workers and pursue an individual development plan. The result is the guests of IFS shelters have a very good chance of becoming part of the mainstream community.

I’m pleased to be part of CLC’s long history of supporting this program. I was directly involved last year and observed firsthand the success for our congregation’s participants and guests. Our guests became employed and all moved to permanent housing by the end of the Clairemont rotation.

We will not be able to host on-site at CLC this year due to our much-anticipated building project. But this important work still goes on and we will be a part of it. Arrangements have been made for us to host at Our Mother of Confidence (OMC) Roman Catholic Church (3131Govenor Drive). OMC has been long-term partners with CLC in supporting the IFS rotation and used our facility to provide two weeks of staffing for many years due to the unavailability of shower facilities at their church. This year OMC has completed the installation of permanent onsite showers. They graciously offered us their facility to staff (cooking teams and over-night chaperones) to host a maximum of 12 guests from 25 Jan – 08 Feb 2020.

We will continue to be supported for our two weeks by our long-standing partner congregations of Northminster Presbyterian Church and University City United Church of Christ (UCUCC).
We will begin sign up for the Chaperone and Food Preparation efforts December 29th, 2019. I will be available to answer questions and provide general information. We continue to find it difficult to fill the chaperone requirements so please carefully consider supporting the chaperone effort. If you would like to try supporting our rotation as a staff volunteer this year, please do not hesitate to contact me if you have questions or concerns. I’m available by email at

NEW THIS YEAR: The Clairemont Branch of IFS identified a need to have funds available to aid guests with transition to more permanent housing, such as deposits, or hotel stays during gaps between the shelter closing and move in dates to their new housing. This proved successful with a family last year, and will now become an annual effort.  

The way it is envisioned to work is each church is pledging an amount they can make available as the need arises. Funds will not be called unless they are needed. The coordination/validation of need will be the case workers and IFS staff (not volunteers). Our goal is to raise $1,000.00 to pledge.
Our success extends from our entire congregation, from volunteers who directly prepare food, chaperone, and provide supporting services (donations of linen, blankets, toiletries, quarters for the laundry, etc.) If you are able to contribute to the fund please mark a pew envelope with IFS Family. This will ensure that should the need arise the funds are available to help a family.

We’re making a difference by living our faith and sharing the CLC’s vision. Many thanks to everyone for making our participation in this program possible.