COA Food Connection serves as a vehicle to share food
with individuals and families in our community who are struggling.
The Food Connection Program is one of 12 service programs that the Community Outreach Alliance administers annually, geographically reaching over 14,000 people in Orange County’s San Clemente. The Community Outreach Alliance Food Connection Program serves as a vehicle to share food and touches hundreds of individuals and/or families per month in our community who are struggling for food and the proper nutrition. In Orange County’s San Clemente, 7.1% of persons live in poverty 1 vs. the 11.1% in all of Orange County.2 In San Clemente, 12,049 senior citizens reside, making up 18.9% of the population 3; 7.2% of seniors in Orange County live below the poverty line.4
Community Outreach Alliance acknowledges the needs and remains committed to community programs, such as the Food Connection Program, thus providing the means to the way for family/parent and senior citizen nutrition and awareness support.
The Food Connection Program began in 2005 where Talega Life Ministries would get bread from stores and deliver sandwiches to hotels in San Clemente to feed 50 homeless and those struggling with addiction; the primary concern was for the children that were forced into a transient lifestyle. The Talega Life Ministries’ outreach expanded once a volunteer, cooperating with a local Ralphs market, ran a van load to the marine base at Camp Pendleton every Wednesday, feeding approximately 60 military families, thus benefiting from the Food Connection Program.
Hundreds were served every weekend in 2014, where there was rising hunger in the Mendocino Apartments (Hud Housing) subsidized housing. Currently, these clients come to the COA facility, which serves over 100 every other Saturday. Also in 2014, snacks were provided to those teens who were struggling and participating in COA life programs. For example, over 350 high school students, 150 in Alcoholic Anonymous and 100 in Nar-A-Non Support Groups.
In 2012, we began to collaborate with the Second Harvest Food Bank and Family Assistance Ministries.
In 2016, Second Harvest Food Bank commissioned COA to concentrate on the San Clemente senior population. On the first and third Saturday of every month, Community Outreach Alliance connects local senior citizens to the COA volunteers onsite at Cotton’s Senior Housing and at the Food Connection building if they drive, so that they can ‘shop’ for food that is provided by numerous local grocery stores. The senior feed program is Community Outreach Alliance’s flagship program as no one else does this in San Clemente.
In 2019, the Food Connection moved to a new location within COA at The Arts Project building. The COA Board voted to fully overhaul the program in an effort to set standards and protocol for safe food handling, financial transparency and program sustainability.
Goal 1: Increase the outreach to all city demographics.
- Objective 1A: Build storage and doors at the new location for Food Connection.
- Objective 1B: Provide additional financial resources for fuel reimbursement and incidental costs ie electricity.
Goal 2: Recruit additional volunteers for senior bi-weekly outreach.
- Objective 2A: Provide volunteer supervision.
- Objective 2B: Increase program budget to hire Supervisor.
- Objective 2C: Expand the program budget.
- Emergency food is shared with love and respect for those who come for assistance. It is our intention that they receive not only food for their physical hunger, but generous portions of kindness and grace to feed their spiritual and emotional hunger also.
Molly Florez, FC Coordinator
“Senior Citizen Outreach"
On the first and third Saturday of every month. COA Food Connection under the direction of compassionate coordinator Molly Flores connects local senior citizens with either our on-site campus or at Cotton’s Senior Apartments to shop for food provided by local stores and Second Harvest Food Bank.