Got Your Back San Diego was founded in 2011 by local business owners, Bill & Sue McLeod. The couple married in 1970 and have three adult children and five grandchildren. Having grown up in an underprivileged home with five siblings, Bill knows firsthand the struggles and challenges of food insecurity at a young age as well as its long-term effects.
After learning that over 26,000 children attending San Diego schools have been identified as homeless and food insecure, Bill and Sue felt a deep sense of responsibility to do something about it. Having been bi-vocational for many years, Bill owning an environmental testing company, Sue an independent distributor of nutritional products, and both serving in public ministry, the two retired from ministry in 2010. At an age when most couples start thinking about slowing down, the McLeods decided it was time to give something back to the community that has been a great blessing to them. So, in 2011, Bill & Sue started Got Your Back San Diego.
“At first we had no idea what we were doing.”, said Sue McLeod. “We just knew we wanted to feed kids and do our part in the fight against childhood hunger. With no supporters and limited resources of our own, we knew we couldn’t do everything, but we were determined to do something. So we started with 22 kids at Olive Elementary School in Vista. In year two we took what felt like a quantum leap and committed to feeding 150 kids in five schools. By the end of year six, Got Your Back provided over 285,000 meals to hungry kids! Now, in our seventh year, we are committed to 500 K through 5th grade students in Vista, Oceanside, and Carlsbad schools.”
Hunger can be harmful to any individual, but is particularly devastating to children due to their increased vulnerability and potential for long-term consequences, including health issues and behavioral challenges. Studies show that hunger can hinder a child's ability to learn, function normally, and participate in school activities and social interaction with peers. Childhood hunger is also associated with social difficulties, truancy and school tardiness, hyperactivity, aggression, anxiety, mood swings, bullying, and fighting with other children. And perhaps most tragically, children who suffer from food insecurity are more likely to require hospitalization, more susceptible bone and muscle issues, are at higher risk for chronic health conditions such as anemia, and asthma, and have more frequent instances of oral health problems. Our primary purpose for starting Got Your Back was to level the playing field of opportunity for children attending schools in San Diego County by removing one of the biggest obstacles to their success... HUNGER.
WHAT IS GOT YOUR BACK SAN DIEGO AND HOW DOES IT WORK?
Got Your Back San Diego is a weekend food assistance program developed specifically for children who do not have reliable access to a sufficient amount of affordable, nutritious food. Currently we serve a small portion of children in the tri-city area of Northwest County where alone there are over 7,000 elementary grade students who have little to no food of any nutritional value after they leave school on Friday, until they return on Monday.
Every week, volunteers come to our Oceanside warehouse to fill backpacks with 2 breakfasts, 2 lunches, 2 dinners, and a few healthy snacks, enough food to sustain a child throughout the weekend. On Thursdays, additional volunteers deliver the backpacks to the schools, where a designated school liaison distributes full backpacks to the children in need and collects the empty backpacks from the prior week. Also included in each backpack are interactive homework assignments that teach kids about food and making healthy food choices.
Got Your Back San Diego is a dba of American Relief Organization, an IRS registered 501c3 nonprofit organization, exclusively supported 100% by local businesses, churches, social organizations and private individuals.
EIN # 20-8220093
Our mission is to remain fully engaged in the fight against childhood food insecurity until every child here in our local communities has a reliable source of nutritious food in their home every weekend. By partnering with local schools, our desire is to level the playing field of opportunity for children who may be physically, mentally or emotionally disadvantaged due to a not having a consistent, adequate source of good, healthy food. Our goal is bring the Got Your Back San Diego Project into every school in the Tri-City area first, then expand into school district in San Diego County.
To learn more about how you can make a difference in a child's life, please click here.