In the aftermath of last week’s 12-hour power outage, restaurant owners across San Diego County lamented the tens of thousands of dollars they lost from spoiled food. But many said they would rebound, despite the setback.

That may not be so easy in the kitchens of more than 200,000 of the county’s poorest residents who rely on county food stamps to stock their refrigerators.

Social service and food pantry workers don’t know the magnitude of those losses, but say the timing was bad because the blackout came early in the month — just a week after poor families’ benefits cards were loaded with their monthly credit.

Shelly Hahne, who runs the Hand Up Youth Food Pantry for Jewish Family Services, a local social services agency, said families typically load up at the beginning of the month. She’s telling her clients who receive food aid to report losses from the power outage to San Diego County and have the value of the spoiled food replaced. Many people don’t know they have that option, she said.

Hahne is lobbying San Diego’s state officials to issue a blanket replacement for all food stamps recipients. If that doesn’t happen, people who lost food must report lost foods themselves.

Claims must be submitted by Sept. 19 and the spoiled food must have been purchased with food stamps benefits.

They must fill out this form available in English or Spanish, and submit it at a county family resource center.

They can call the county at (866) 262-9881, or dial 211 for more information.

Adrian Florido is a reporter for He covers San Diego’s neighborhoods. What should he write about next?

Contact him directly at or at 619.325.0528.

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Adrian Florido

Adrian Florido is a former staff writer for Voice of San Diego.

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