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Our Most Basic Need -
The Center's Food Resources
February 22, 2021

Dear Center Community,

Food is our most basic need - it is what nourishes and sustains us so we can work, care for our loved ones, and carry on the business of our lives. We have heard from so many in our LGBTQ community that they are facing food insecurity, some for the first time in their lives during the COVID-19 pandemic, and we have seen the need increase exponentially. As we have been in the past, The Center is here for you with food programs and services.
The Center, in partnership with the Jacobs & Cushman San Diego Food Bank, holds two Food Banks every month in our parking lot at our Main Center. Our Senior Food Bank takes place on the fourth Tuesday of the month and serves low-income seniors, and our Neighborhood Food Bank happens on the first Tuesday of the month and is open to all. During COVID-19, we have implemented all safety protocols including masking and social distancing for our walk-up clients, and also added a contactless drive-thru where clients pull through the line in the parking lot and food is loaded directly into their cars. Center staff arrive early at the Food Bank so they can pick up food and deliver it to clients who may not have transportation to come to The Center, including North Park Senior Apartments and Sunburst Youth Housing. Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have seen increased numbers of existing clients utilizing the food banks, and also new community members who arrive tentative or unsure - all are warmly welcomed.  
In addition to the Food Banks, Center staff have created innovative programs to continue to get critical food to our community. Partnering with a different local restaurant every month, we have launched Nourishing the Community, a program designed to provide free meals to those affected by COVID-19; this month, we are partnering with Big Front Door. In another inventive offering, The Center has partnered with 2-1-1, CIE San Diego, Door Dash, and United Way for a free weekly delivery of non-perishables like pasta, sauce, canned goods, cereal, and more right to our community’s doorstep (more details below).
If you are facing food insecurity and need The Center’s resources, you are not alone. For information and details, contact Sarah Merk-Benitez at 619. 692.2077 x 214 or If you are able, please donate so we can continue to provide these critical food programs to our community - visit here to make a gift.

In community,
-Cara Dessert (Pronouns: She/Her/Hers)
Chief Executive Officer
Food insecurity is a real issue that impacts millions of LGBTQ people; nearly 25% of LGBTQ adults live in poverty. Similar to housing, finding LGBTQ-affirming organizations with food resources can be challenging for LGBTQ individuals. When members of the LGBTQ community seek out support services, they worry if they will be accepted for who they are in a safe and welcoming environment. The Center continues to provide a place where everyone feels welcomed, valued, and supported and this is why The Center's food programs and services are so critical to our community. During this pandemic, our food resource service visits have skyrocketed, with many more community members seeking support. This work could not be done without our Center Supporters' help who, in the past year, have stepped in to make sure that LGBTQ youth and adults receive the nourishing food resources they so much need.

To support The Centers Emergency Services and Essential Support Programs and help provide a nourishing meal for someone, please visit

Ian Johnson (Pronouns: He/Him/His)
Director of Development
President Biden has pledged to make passage of the Equality Act a priority in his first 100 days in office, and this week the House of Representatives is scheduled to vote on it. The Equality Act is common sense, bipartisan legislation that would update federal law to include express and enduring nondiscrimination protections for 13 million LGBTQ+ Americans across virtually every area of daily life including housing, credit, education, federally funded programs, public spaces, and jury service. It would amend current civil right laws to explicitly prohibit discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community and strengthen non-discrimination protections for women and other minorities.

At this moment in history, The Equality Act has broad and deep support across lines of political party, demographics, and geography, and public support is at an all-time high, with 83 percent of Americans and a majority in every state, saying they favor LGBTQ+ nondiscrimination protections. As our community knows firsthand, discrimination is still commonplace for LGBTQ+ Americans. Opponents of LGBTQ+ equality continue to file discriminatory bills in states across the country in an attempt to undermine existing protections in adoption, marriage, and access to basic public services and businesses. The Equality Act would ensure that all LGBTQ+ Americans can live, work, and access public spaces free from discrimination, no matter what state they call home. Please add your voice and tell Congress the time is now to pass the Equality Act; click here to write your lawmaker in support.

Additionally, last Thursday the U.S. Citizenship Act was introduced in Congress. This is the first step in building a just and equitable immigration system. This bold plan reunites & keeps families together – expressly including LGBTQ families, provides a pathway to citizenship for our DREAMers, and restores dignity, humanity, and compassion to our immigration system.
For the last four years, life has been extremely challenging for our immigrant community, especially our LGBTQ immigrant community. It is a core value of The Center that immigration is an LGBTQ issue, and as a service provider and an advocacy organization, has been there every step of the way with support, advocacy, housing and rental assistance, translation services for documents, referrals to legal help, food resources, health education and referrals, crisis intervention, and so much more.
The Center proudly supports the U.S. Citizenship Act, and joins with immigrant rights advocates and organizations in urging Congress to pass this critical immigration reform legislation. In the coming weeks, look for ways to lend your support and how to contact your member of Congress to urge them to vote in favor of the U.S. Citizenship Act.

Rebekah Hook-Held (Pronouns: She/Her/Hers)
Chief Public Affairs & Civic Engagement Officer

Keep up to date on COVID-19 vaccine phases, information, details on vaccination sites, or to make your appointment, visit the San Diego County website. 

Need a COVID-19 test? Just click here for a list of testing sites or call 2-1-1. 

Use your phone to stop the spread. Sign up for California’s exposure notification system to get exposure alerts. Visit CA Notify for details. 

Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) is offering free transit rides to COVID-19 vaccine appointment locations, including vaccination sites in the county including Super Vaccination stations, hospitals, and other community immunization locations. Show a confirmation email of your vaccine appointment that day - either a printout or on a smartphone - to get on board for free. Learn more.

Many community members have faced financial hardship and/or food insecurity due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In response to this, for the month of February 2021, The San Diego LGBT Community Center and Big Front Door will be partnering to offer a free meal. Please sign-up here:

Please feel free to pass this link along to community members who may need it. For questions, please reach out to The Center's Sarah Merk-Benitez at
On February 23rd from 12pm - 1:30pm,  join the Center on Policy Initiatives (CPI) as they host the State of Black Workers in San Diego County with a panel of Black labor leaders and organizers. This important panel will discuss systemic racism and labor, the current reality for Black workers in San Diego, and ways to support Black workers and organizing efforts, especially campaigns led by Black women which have historically been the most effective and have the highest win rates. This panel will also be an opportunity to learn more about the new San Diego Black Workers Center. The discussion will be led by Executive Director, Dr. Kyra R. Greene, with a presentation of data by Senior Researcher and Policy Advocate, Dr. Derrick Robinson.  Learn more and register here.
The Center truly does have something for everyone! Join in community for discussion and support groups, special programming, and more via Zoom - all tailored for our LGBTQ community. Please visit our website, visit The Center's Facebook page, or call us at (619) 800-4252 from 9am - 4pm or (619) 800-4216 from 4pm - 9pm to find the right one for you. Below find just some of The Center's offerings. 
Covered California has established a special-enrollment period to give Californians more opportunities to sign up for health care coverage without needing to meet the normal qualifying life events. Anyone who meets Covered California’s eligibility requirements can sign up for coverage through May 15th and have their coverage begin on the first of the following month. For more information, visit or call 1.800.300.1506. You can also get free and confidential assistance in a variety of languages from a certified enroller, or have a certified enroller call them and help for free.

The Center is one of San Diego’s most exciting places to work! Center staff members are renowned for their dynamic and creative teamwork, cutting edge innovations, consistent professionalism, and extraordinary heart and dedication. The Center offers employees an amazing environment where community building, compassion, and care are uniquely combined with an insistent striving toward excellence and best practices. Check out our job listings. 

We make it easy to share The Center's weekly E-News - just click this link and forward to a friend! If your friends would like to sign up to stay informed, they can sign up here:
If you are in crisis or considering suicide, you are not alone.
There are resources and help available for you:
  • Trans Lifeline: 1.877.565.8860 - For trans or nonbinary folx in the US
  • Trevor Project Lifeline: 1.866.488.7386 - For LGBT youth (18-24)
  • National Suicide Hotline: 1.800.273.8255 - For all ages & identities
  • San Diego Access and Crisis Line: 1.888.724.7240 - Free suicide prevention/intervention hotline in San Diego County
Copyright © 2021 San Diego LGBT Community Center, All rights reserved.

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