Two and a half years ago, Hayder came to the United States with his wife and two young daughters, fleeing his home in Iraq to escape the never-ending violence, in the hopes of a better life for his family.
“(I’d) go to work and tell my family I might not come home,” he said, of their time in Iraq.
The family arrived in San Diego with only what they could carry, unable to speak English and unsure of where to go for help.
That’s when they found Friendships for Hope — a nonprofit that provides food and assistance to those in need, with an emphasis on helping immigrants and refugees, like Hayder and his family. The organization gives about 8,000 pounds of food to 400 families in an average week.
Friendships of Hope is able to provide food for those families with the help of the San Diego Food Bank. Recently, the organization has been able to amplify its efforts to distribute food to more than 100 sites in the San Diego area, thanks to a $375,000 grant from UnitedHealthcare.
The funding also allowed the food bank to initiate its FEED pilot, a database which makes it simpler and faster for residents to get the food they need.
The new technology will also link data between the food bank and the San Diego County Department of Health to track client usage more effectively than ever before.
The FEED program has already made Friendship for Hope’s food bank events smoother and more efficient.
“The grant really helps, as we’ve been struggling to keep track of our clients. This county-wide program will allow us to help the whole county better understand their social determinant needs,” said Will James, CEO of Friendships for Hope.
Hayder's family is not only relying on food donations provided by Friendships for Hope, they also plan to utilize the free English language classes and learn retail skills from the thrift store, provided by the nonprofit. Hayder believes it’s establishing the foundation to grow and thrive in a new country.
“Everything is good right here,” he said. “It is safe for my family.”