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Feeding San Diego Launches Gift a Meal Program

Plus, Cal Coast and the San Diego Gulls raise money for books, Ocean Discovery Institute get a surprise donation, and Anvil of Hope plans a career fair

By Sarah Sapeda

Feeding San Diego has launched an initiative designed to support local restaurants and get more food in the mouths of hungry people. Diners at restaurants participating in Feeding San Diego’s Gift a Meal program now have the option to add one or more $15 meals to their order for a person facing hunger. Once a restaurant has at least five donated meals, they prepare them, pack them up, and alert Feeding San Diego, which then sends someone to pick up the meals and get them to people in need.

The first restaurants to sign on were Carte Blanche Bistro & Bar, George’s at the Cove, One Door North, Social Tap American Eatery, Terra American Bistro, Little Lion Cafe, and The Smoking Goat.

The initiative was inspired by 10-year-old Lily Piehl, whose parents, Fred and Tammy, own The Smoking Goat and One Door North. She and her Girl Scout troop wanted to do something to drive business for restaurants while helping people facing hunger. “Asking our community to order meals from restaurants and then giving them to people who are hungry seems like a great way for everyone to help each other,” Lily said. If you are a restaurant owner and want to participate, please visit

Peter and Vicky Zien

Anvil of Hope founders and AleSmith owners Peter and Vicky Zien

Anvil of Hope, a nonprofit founded by AleSmith Brewing Company owners Peter and Vicky Zien, will host a career workshop Thursday for San Diegans affected by COVID-19. Pros from the San Diego Padres, SDG&E, and Manpower will be on hand with job leads, résumé tips and insight on how to enter or reenter the workforce.

When Anvil of Hope was founded a year ago, it understandably focused on providing immediate, tangible help to San Diegans in need, but as the pandemic appears to be winding down, it has transitioned to providing more long-term solutions like career guidance, skills training, and mentoring opportunities.

“We’re here to help those in need in our community, but most importantly, we want to help others help themselves. We are providing career counseling, jobs and skills training, financial assistance towards education and mentoring for our youth,” said cofounder and president Vicky Zien. “There’s a lot of work to do, but we look forward to becoming an essential entity in San Diego that helps others live fuller, more vibrant lives.”

California Coast Credit Union and the San Diego Gulls are joining forces to raise money for Words Alive, which will in turn purchase books and school supplies for local kids and teens. Through March 8, the Gulls and Cal Coast will each match any financial donations or items purchased through the Words Alive Amazon Wish List, up to $1,500.

“Words Alive works with thousands of students—many struggling with distance learning, limited books and learning supplies at home, and being apart from loved ones over the past year,” said Words Alive Executive Director Rachel Orose. “This campaign will reignite a joy of reading for hundreds of children and families across San Diego.”

To donate, visit

Ocean Discovery Institute in City Heights closed out 2020 with a surprise $150,000 donation from Neurocrine Biosciences. Officials at Ocean Discovery called the gift “game changing” and said it would help ensure programs would continue to be offered at no cost.

“The lack of opportunity and the strain of poverty has been heightened amidst the pandemic, and we are grateful that the Ocean Discovery Institute is helping to ensure that our next generation of leaders and scientists has access to educational programming that is safe and informative as well as to internet training and supplies that students need to be able to participate in school,” said Kevin Gorman, PhD, chief executive officer of Neurocrine Biosciences.

Workers pack Gift a Meal boxes at The Smoking Goat in North Park

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