REGION — Nonprofit Interfaith Community Services has helped thousands of residents across North County by providing meals and housing and also offering support to those who face barriers to housing, like drug and alcohol addiction.
Last year, the organization provided nearly 340,000 meals to people faced with food insecurity.
At Interfaith’s annual report held Wednesday at The North Coast Church, organizers discussed the accomplishments of the past year and issues to focus on in the region.
Over the past year, the organization launched the Senior Connections program, which brought healthy meals to seniors in Vista, San Marcos and Oceanside at a cost of $2 per meal.
“We meet basic needs in a way that not only feeds the hungry, but also addresses bigger underlying issues,” said Executive Director Greg Anglea.
Anglea said the program feeds seniors who are isolated in the community.
As part of the pilot program, seniors are connected with other services like minor repair services, daily phone calls and socialization.
Interfaith also distributes food throughout Oceanside at all three community centers in the city.
The program was made possible through a partnership with the city, Feeding America and The Leichtag Foundation.
Beyond food services, Anglea highlighted services that help people find housing and employment.
More than 700 people found a safe place to sleep at an Interfaith shelter. Aside from shelters, the non-profit provides rental assistance, housing navigation and landlord connections for people in crisis.
Interfaith operates a Winter Haven Shelter in Escondido and 79 percent of homeless families that participated in the housing program secured their own permanent housing in the past 12 months, according to Anglea.
The Winter Haven Shelter was just expanded to offer services year round.
Another center in Escondido is set to open its doors in a month, the Hawthorne Veteran and Family Resource Center.
Once finished, the Hawthorne center will house 32 beds for homeless people recovering from hospital stays. Of the 32 beds, 20 will be reserved for veterans.
The success rate for the Recuperative Care Program is also high. More than 70 percent of those enrolled in it overcame homelessness once finishing the program.
In Oceanside, Interfaith members focus some of their efforts on at-risk youth through the Transitional Youth Academy.
Teenagers are given one-on-one academic mentoring and have the opportunity to intern and learn job skills.
Director of External Affairs at AT&T, John Osborne was on-hand to donate $120,000 to the program because, he said, it works.
“The AT&T Foundation looks for programs that are successful and particularly likes to fund those programs that can be replicated at other nearby institutions,” Osborne said.
Over the past two years, the foundation has spent $300,000 to replicate the Interfaith program at Oceanside High School and bring it to El Camino High School.
Interfaith receives the majority of its funding from government grants and contracts and charitable gifts.
At the annual report Wednesday, community leaders and members discussed areas in which they’d like to see Interfaith focus on in the coming year.
A representative from Brother Benno’s said they’d like to see the detox program re-open for homeless people struggling with addiction because there are no detox centers in the region.
The biggest obstacle in opening a detox facility is finding and funding a building.
Other community suggestions included traveling social workers and increased collaborations between faith-based organizations.