Heart to Hands Food Drive celebrates 10 years with help from those in Pacific Beach

Candi DeMoura, founder of the Heart to Hands Food Drive, with donations received from those in Pacific Beach and La Jolla.
(Courtesy of Candi DeMoura)

Donate from Nov. 3 through Dec. 12 to help feed people and their pets


Candi DeMoura has called San Diego home for almost a decade and in the 10 years that the Heart to Hands Food Drive has been around, she said she vividly remembers the one afternoon that led her to take the first leap in creating this event.

“One day I was down at the Cove eating an acai bowl in my car and watching the waves. There was a trash barrel in front of me and this homeless man came over, took the lid off of the trash barrel and started diving into the trash barrel trying to look for food,” DeMoura said.

“I thought to myself, ‘It’s so sad that in this day and age there’s not enough food to go around.’”

From that moment on, DeMoura said she was determined to learn more about food insecurity in San Diego and get involved by creating a food drive in Pacific Beach and La Jolla.

Since 2012, Heart to Hands Food Drive has welcomed the community to participate in alleviating food insecurity near these coastal communities and across San Diego.

This year’s food drive will run from Nov. 3 through Dec. 12.

According to the San Diego Hunger Coalition, more than 1 in 4 San Diegans experience nutrition insecurity, or are unable to provide three, nutritious meals per day for themselves and/or their families as of March 2022. There are 905,651 individuals — 28 percent of San Diegans — facing food insecurity.

Since its creation, the food drive has received approximately 22,000 pounds of food. From 398 pounds in the first year to nearly 5,000 pounds in 2021, its humble origins have grown into a neighborhood-wide effort.

“At one point, I used to deliver those donation bags myself,” DeMoura said. “I’d go out and deliver 200 to 300 donation bags in three hours. I think it’s really important to give back to the community you work in, play in and live in.

“The food drive I started takes up a lot of my time,” she said. “It’s also something that’s really fulfilling for me. To know that people are going to have food in the holiday season is really important.”

For many during the holiday season, family is an integral part of the food experience and that’s why DeMoura added a partnership with the San Diego Humane Society in 2020 to include people’s furry best friends.

“I have a pet and I’m also on the philanthropy committee at the humane society,” DeMoura said. “I attend all these different meetings regularly and you hear about these people that hold onto their pets because they need them. They hold onto them and can’t necessarily feed them.

“The humane society actually collects donations and puts them into the community for different people that can’t afford pet food. I thought we should add to it,” she said.

In addition to the San Diego Humane Society, donations received from this event are given to the San Diego Food Bank, Feeding San Diego and the Triton Food Pantry at the University of California San Diego.

Whether donating food or becoming a volunteer, DeMoura said every effort from the community makes a difference.

“There are a lot of people out there who want to give back to their community, but they don’t know how,” DeMoura said. “This is a good way to do it. Even if they don’t have the means to give back, they can come and volunteer. It’s become part of giving during the holiday season — giving thanks and giving back.”

DeMoura and volunteers will be passing out empty donation bags at the Pacific Beach Holiday Parade, set to start at 11 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 10 along Garnet Avenue between Haines and Bayard streets.

Needed items include canned meats (tuna, ham, chicken), canned or dried fruits, dried beans, rice, cereal, powered milk, packaged nuts and seeds, canned soups, canned vegetables, peanut butter, dried pasta, infant formula. Also accepted will be diapers, toothpaste, toothbrushes, tissue and toilet paper

As for donations for pets, needed items (unopened and unexpired only) include bird seed, dry and wet dog and cat food, prescription food, small animal food, treats, litter and pet wipes.

Three Pacific Beach businesses will serve as drop-off locations: Java Earth, 4978 Cass Street; the PB Water Store, 4450 Lamont Street and Noah’s Natural Pet Market, 4431 Cass Street.

A food drop-off event will be held at Kate Sessions Park on Sunday, Dec. 11 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The park is at 5115 Soledad Road in Pacific Beach.

To learn more about how to get involved, email DeMoura at or visit