New Program to Provide Food and Water to the Unsheltered


Local Philanthropist Gwendolyn Sontheim and Lucky Duck Foundation Launch Program to Provide Food and Water to Unsheltered Homeless San Diegans

SAN DIEGO, CA –June 10, 2020: The Lucky Duck Foundation (LDF) today announced a County-wide effort to distribute food and water to San Diego’s unsheltered homeless population. Because many community and congregate meal services have ceased due to COVID-19, many individuals experiencing homelessness are struggling to secure food and water. The initiative represents a strategic collaboration made possible by a generous donation from local philanthropist Gwendolyn Sontheim and the Aqualia International Foundation, LTD, in partnership with the Lucky Duck Foundation, the San Diego Sheriff’s Department (SDSD), the Regional Task Force on the Homeless (RTFH), and multiple homeless outreach teams. Other founding supporters include SDG&E, the Danna Foundation, Walter J. & Betty C. Zable Foundation, Bank of America, and an anonymous donor.

     “This is a life or death situation for the unsheltered homeless. People experiencing homelessness are especially isolated and vulnerable now, where many do not have access to the most basic human needs,” said Dan Shea, LDF Board Member, Tuesday Group Co-Founder, and Partner of Paradigm Investment Group. “The idea and inspiration for this program came from Gwendolyn Sontheim. She recognized the urgent need, provided meaningful financial support and asked The Lucky Duck Foundation to assist with the design and lead the program. Gwendolyn’s vision, leadership and generous donation is the reason this program is happening.”

     “On any given day, there are almost 4,000 people unsheltered and trying to survive on the streets of San Diego County, without the most basic physiological needs being met. By providing food, water and basic services, this collaboration will save lives,” said Gwendolyn Sontheim, Philanthropist. “I am very proud that our community is coming together to make a very real difference in the lives of those who are suffering,”

     The ultimate goal of the initiative is to provide food and water to as many of the 4,000 unsheltered population as possible for the foreseeable future. Ms. Sontheim donated $500,000 to begin the program and another like-amount has been raised with meaningful donations from LDF, SDG&E, the Danna Foundation, Walter J. and Betty C. Zable Foundation, Bank of America, and an anonymous donor. The first food and water distribution began on May 27, 2020.

     Food for the program is being prepared and packed by the Sheriff’s Food Services Division of the Detention Services Bureau at their East Mesa Reentry Facility, which currently prepares approximately 15,000 meals per day for its inmates. After meals are prepared and packed with water, they are delivered to homeless outreach workers. Using heat maps and data provided by the RTFH, outreach workers deliver the food and water to unsheltered persons.

     “We have one of the largest unsheltered populations in the nation, and in this time of the pandemic, our unsheltered population is not able to have their basic needs met.” Said, Tamera Kohler, Chief Executive Officer, Regional Task Force on the Homeless.  “Having our outreach teams being able to provide food and water right now, along with support services to ultimately help get people sheltered, is life-saving.” 

     “This initiative is important and it will indeed save lives. But our community must have an elevated sense of urgency, and bold leadership to do more and move faster on behalf of our large homeless population,” said Stephanie Kilkenney, President and Co-Founder of Lucky Duck Foundation. “While we have made some progress and reduced the homeless population year-over-year for the last three years, Covid19 and the very difficult economy will put much more pressure on our already underfunded homeless support infrastructure. Homelessness should be the number one issue priority for us.”  

     “We urge individuals, businesses, foundations and philanthropists to join us in support of this best-in-class initiative,” said Peter Seidler, LDF Board Member, Tuesday Group Co-Founder, General Partner, San Diego Padres. “The people and organizations who call San Diego home can make a life-saving contribution to help those who are most at risk during this crisis.”

     “Because of the pandemic and economic crisis, the normal structure for feeding the unsheltered homeless has been disrupted. It is imperative that we focus on feeding anyone experiencing hunger in the region and this initiative is an important addition to the effort,” said Eugene “Mitch” Mitchell, VP External Affairs, SDG&E.

     Numerous social service provider outreach teams are participating in the food and water distribution including the Alpha Project, McAlister, HomeStart, Crisis House, National Alliance on Mental Illness, Family Health Centers of San Diego, Vista Hill, and Veteran’s Villages of San Diego. Service providers interested in participating should contact the Lucky Duck Foundation at

To view and/or download the video press release, please visit:

This link includes 60-second produced video for use in story, post on your website and use on social channels.

To make a donation in support of this initiative, please visit


Since 2005, The Lucky Duck Foundation (LDF) has raised funds and awareness for numerous charitable causes throughout San Diego. In 2017, due to the growing homelessness epidemic, LDF pivoted to focus on providing aid and relief for individuals and families living without permanent housing. Since then, LDF and its co-founders, Pat & Stephanie Kilkenny, have funded and activated several high-impact programs that alleviate the suffering of homelessness throughout San Diego County including bridge shelters, employment and job training, research, permanent supportive housing, outreach, and more.  

To follow the Lucky Duck Foundation on social:


The Tuesday Group is a group of local business and civic leaders who convene every Tuesday to discuss best-in-class strategies and collaborations for helping San Diego County’s homeless. Led by Peter Seidler and Dan Shea, it has met every Tuesday since 2016. Weekly participants include Pat and Stephanie Kilkenny, Tom Mulvaney, Dan Novak, Debbie Ruane, Keith Jones, Jeff Martin, Mitch Mitchell, Dan Herbert, Peter Seidler, and Dan Shea. 

For media inquiries, contact Drew Moser: / (619) 417-1149.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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Makayla Scott

Peer Mentor, Promises2Kids
As an African American first-generation college graduate, I recently earned my Bachelor’s degree in Urban Planning Management and Design. Despite facing the challenges of homelessness and balancing motherhood, I have persevered and am committed to using my experiences to advocate for better urban planning and support for vulnerable communities.”