Market to Table

“It’s great to know that my produce is not going to waste — even better that it is going to be enjoyed by somebody who wouldn’t have had access fresh fruit or vegetables otherwise.” – Bob Pizza, produce vendor at the San Francisco Wholesale Produce Market and donor to the Food Bank.

Thanks to the Food Bank’s sustainable partnership with the vendors of the San Francisco Wholesale Produce Market, thousands of pounds of perfectly delectable food are saved from waste each week. Jason Chorney, the market’s Operations Manager, emphasized the mutually beneficial arrangement saying, “Donating unsold food to the Food Bank is both ethically and economically favorable for our merchants. They feel great about feeding people, and it saves them the cost of composting.”

The Produce Market, tucked away in the Bayview district, supplies produce direct from farms to upscale restaurants, hotels, and neighborhood markets.  From late in the night to the early hours of the morning, while most of the city is asleep, the market bustles with 650 employees, 25 merchant vendors and endless trucks moving in and out with fresh fruits and vegetables.

Cousins Jack and Bob Pizza are both produce vendors at the Produce Market, and both men participate in the market’s food donation program. “It’s great to know that my produce is not going to waste — even better that it is going to be enjoyed by somebody who wouldn’t have had access fresh fruit or vegetables otherwise.” Bob Pizza told us.

Bob Pizza, owner of What a Tomato, and a self-proclaimed “lifer” at the produce market, has been working there since he was a teenager. “I graduated high school on a Friday and came to work at the market that Monday!” A few docks down, his cousin Jack Pizza runs Washington Vegetable, a company started by the cousins’ grandfather Donte in 1931. Jack told us, “We try to sell all of our produce, but it’s not always possible. I’m glad the Food Bank has the ability to come and pick up what we can’t sell, so it doesn’t go to waste.”


Spotlight: Supermarket Street Sweep

Eric and Cooper Downing crossing the finish line! Photo courtesy of Supermarket Street Sweep

December 3rd was a beautiful Saturday afternoon at the Food Bank. We had a clear sky, the sun was shining, and a father and son arrived on a tandem bicycle…pulling four full shopping carts full of food to donate!

Cargo race winners and tandem cyclists Eric Downing and his seven-year old son Cooper Sprocket Downing were not alone. They were part of the 201 bicyclists participating in the 6th Annual Supermarket Street Sweep!  Each year, participants crisscross the city visiting local supermarkets and bringing back thousands of pounds of donated groceries. This year, everyone was excited about the results: almost 7,990 pounds of food was collected and $9,652 was raised.

The Downings were an impressive sight, hauling their train of shopping carts engineered to move and turn in unison on their bicycle-built-for-two. Eric, an architect and former professional cyclist, has passed on his passion for cycling and charitable work to his son Cooper Sprocket (who is named after the toothed wheel a bike’s chain rides along). This was their second year in the race – they came back to avenge their narrow defeat last year by hauling in even more food to donate to the Food Bank.

Eric told us, “This is an extra special race. Jennifer [Oh Hatfield] is phenomenal. She puts this whole thing together. We are indebted to her for creating a race that supports the Food Bank.” While there are lots of bicycle races out there, Eric told us “This is the most selfless race I’ve ever participated in, it’s wonderful!”

photo of Eric and Cooper by Jonathan Koshi http://www.flickr.com/photos/koshi/

Jennifer Oh Hatfield who organizes the race every year (with co-organizers Kacey O’Kelly, Jonathan Koshi, and Mike Spencer) wanted to create an event that was “…both a fun and useful way for Bay Area cyclists to help a great cause.” She was impressed by Eric and Cooper, telling us, “It’s great that we have families come out. Eric and Cooper were determined to do well this year and they showed up with an ingenious shopping cart train to win the cargo race!” Proud of her racers as well as her volunteers, Jennifer added “We are successful because of our great participants, our volunteers who come out to count food and help organize things, and of course our sponsors — a ton from the Bay Area and even nationwide.”

It’s always fun to see how different groups of people pair their interests with charitable acts. The Supermarket Street Sweep is an exciting, competitive way to get cyclists involved with food justice and the Food Bank. “I would like to see this type of race for charity in every community. There are cyclists across the U.S. just as there are people in need across the U.S.,” Eric Downing said.

Finally, when asked what he would say to people to encourage them to join the race next year Cooper Sprocket said “F-U-N-Z-O! Because it’s funzo!”

Race results by year:
2006: 80 racers – 1,172 lbs of food
2007: 110 racers – 1,595 lbs.
2008: 150 racers – 5,266 lbs.
2009: 198 racers – 7,507 lbs.
2010: 171 racers – 6,920 lbs. + $4,877
2011: 201 racers – 7,990 lbs. +$9,652

SF legal community provides over $3,000,000 worth of much-needed food, thanks to Food from the Bar

Food from the Bar Chairs Jonathan Storper and Jim Donato

The San Francisco legal community really raised the bar in 2011, breaking all their previous records by bringing in $513,783 and 13,386 pounds of food to help end hunger in San Francisco and Marin. Since the San Francisco Food Bank can turn every dollar donated into $6 worth of food, that adds up to well over $3,000,000 worth of much-needed groceries for hungry families. Firms also completed 700 volunteer shifts, sorting and packing tons of food in our warehouse.

Now in its 20th year, Food from the Bar is a month-long campaign, in partnership with The Bar Association of San Francisco, that challenges law firms and legal departments throughout the city to fight hunger. It results in creative fundraising projects – including a miniature golf course that materialized in one law office, and attention-getting costumes, like the hotdog and peapod outfits sported by this year’s event chairs, Jim Donato (Partner, Shearman & Sterling) and Jonathan Storper (Partner, Hanson Bridgett) to support the cause.

Everyone at the food bank appreciates the dedication and hard work that goes into Food from the Bar. This year’s record is particularly meaningful because the San Francisco Food Bank has seen a 32 percent increase in demand for food assistance.

Here are the winning firms, along with our Platinum partners and number of meals their generous contributions will provide:

Per Capita Awards

Grand Prize: Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP
First Place: Fremont Group
Second Place : Bechtel Legal & Risk Management
Third Place Miller Law Group
Top Food Raiser:  Kirkland & Ellis, LLP
Top Volunteer Recruiter: Seyfarth Shaw LLP
Top Fundraising Achievement: Fremont Group
Rookie of the Year: Bechtel Legal & Risk Management

Platinum Partners

  • Stein & Lubin LLP- 42,867 meals
  • O’Melveny & Myers LLP- 53,868 meals
  • Farella Braun + Martel LLP- 55,448 meals
  • Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP- 56, 969 meals
  • Keker & Van Nest LLP- 63,300 meals
  • Shartsis Friese LLP- 67,755 meals
  • Bechtel Legal & Risk Management- 77,578 meals
  • PG&E Law Department – 84,975 meals
  • Kirkland & Ellis, LLP – 91,666 meals
  • Hanson Bridgett – 93,370 meals
  • Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP – 131,323 meals
  • Fremont Group – 247,080 meals

“It makes my heart warm.”

Frances is a new monthly donor, who was inspired to give after participating in a food drive and listening to the announcement of September 16th’s KGO Fights Hunger Day. 

I’m a daily KGO listener and last week, I heard them mentioning a big announcement coming the next day.  They mentioned it so many times that I thought it had better be pretty important, it had better change the world!

When I heard the executive director of the Food Bank on the radio the next day, I was just overwhelmed — I always am when I hear the numbers about hunger.  It made me think, because just two weeks before that we got a paper bag in the mail for the postal food drive.  My mom and I looked through our cupboards and then went to the store for more food to donate.  We ended up leaving two big bags of groceries out, and it felt good to do that.

I live with my senior mom and we’re paycheck to paycheck.  Between my paycheck and my mom’s social security, we don’t go hungry, thank the Lord.  We’ve been really tight, but we’ve never been hungry.  So when I heard about all of this on the radio that morning, I checked the Food Bank’s website and read about the programs, and I thought we should do some more.

When I told my mom that I wanted to donate money to the Food Bank every month, she asked me how I could afford it with all the bills.  We talked about it a lot and I realized I could probably drink a few less lattes, or pick up the paper a few times a week instead of every day.  If I cut back on a few things, I could make a small donation every month.  I’d like to donate more, but this is all I can do right now.

Knowing that so many people need this food doesn’t give you a good feeling.  But I think that if everybody gave just 5 or 10 bucks, we could all help each other a bit.  It makes my heart warm to know there are still organizations able to assist people to get through tough times and all these government cutbacks, and bottom line give people some sort of dignity.  I’m happy that I can give a little and the Food Bank will get the food out to people who need it.

To participate in our Meal a Month program, click here.

Warehouse crew hops to it, distributing 108,000 eggs for Easter!

Our warehouse is really hopping! Dave & Al helped move 108,000 eggs out to needy families for Easter.

It’s EGGxactly what we were hoping for this Easter! California egg farmers hatched a plan to donate 108,000 fresh eggs to the SF Food Bank. Our crack (but not egg-cracking!) warehouse crew got into the holiday spirit as they played Easter Bunny to thousands of San Francisco families…

Got a donation of products or cash that would help make a hungry family’s holiday? We’re all ears!!

How I Give: Diamonds at the Soles of My Shoes

James is a long-time supporter of the SF Food BankJames is a longtime supporter of the Food Bank. He’s also an avid runner, a hobby that led him to an unusual way of collecting money to support his favorite nonprofits.

I live on Russian Hill, and I run about two miles every day. One morning, I slipped on some wet leaves. After that, I was determined not to slip again, so I started looking at my feet and where I was placing them. And I started seeing money! It was pennies, nickels and dimes. I picked them up, started collecting them in one of those old-timey milk jars, and at the end of the year, I sent them off to one of my favorite public service organizations.

The first year, I collected about $35. This was some years ago, and the amounts are different each year. One year, I collected $27, another year $97, and this past year, because of some broken jewelry I found, it was a whopper.

It’s all over the place and you see it if you look at your feet. The funny thing is, I’ve found money everywhere: in Italy, in New Zealand, all over the place. It always goes into my left pocket, and then it always goes into the milk bottle.

I share my apartment with somebody, and we both participate now. The custom of our house is not to keep anything we find. So if it comes our way, it’s kind of a pass-through. If I find MUNI tokens, I use those and put the fare into the jar. With foreign money, if it’s a place I might possibly travel to, then I put it in at the current exchange rate. It’s become almost a household joke now, a ritual.

But in all seriousness, we’re quite aware of how many people go wanting, and we want to do our part. In my family, we never wasted food. My mother and father were both young during the Depression, and so food was never, ever, thrown out. It was respected. So organizations like the Food Bank, organizations that avail themselves of all the excess food, appeal to me. There’s a huge need on the one hand, and on the other hand, an incredible amount of waste.

I’m pleased to have been a supporter of the Food Bank for many years. I follow the Food Bank’s work, and I know it’s involved in distributing to other food programs. So it was easy to pick the Food Bank as the recipient of this year’s findings.

Stories that inspired us in 2010

5-year olds Ethan, Emily and Sophia taught us that you don't have to be big to make a big difference.

This past year, the need for food was staggering. We constantly broke our all-time monthly record for the most food delivered to hungry families in San Francisco and Marin, distributing millions of pounds of food every month.

How did we do it? With the help of amazing volunteers, donors and clients who constantly inspire us. Here are the people – and the stories – that will continue to inspire us to work even harder in 2011, not stopping until hunger in our community is truly a thing of the past:

Inspiration #1

There were a few tears shed in our office when this letter arrived…

Tamar and Ginger, thank you - and we’re so glad things are looking up for you!

Inspiration #2

Toan Lam, of GoInspireGo made this video about Herman Travis, who noticed that homebound seniors in his public housing community needed food and took it upon himself to see that they received it…

Read more about Herman and his good deeds here.

Inspiration #3

The pre-schoolers at With Care Child Care reminded us that, no matter how small you are, you can make a huge difference. See how they did it in this GoInspireGo video…

Read more about these amazing With Care kids and their teacher, Kathleen, here.

Inspiration #4

The story of pantry client “Ginny” and her teenage son reminded us of how important every single vegetable is…

“Ma, you got anything to eat?” And sad to say, a lot of times it’s like, “Mom, there’s nothing to eat.” That’s the worst thing, when your child is hungry and he can’t just get something to eat when he wants it. A lot of times, I eat less and sometimes don’t even eat so he can have something.

If we didn’t have the food bank, it would be a lot worse for my son. He’s a growing kid, he’s always hungry! And I’m always like, look, you gotta save something for another day. At our food bank here, we get vegetables and rice and a couple of things of juice. I appreciate it all, but you have to make it last. What I’ll do with certain kinds of vegetables we get – like onions, celery and bell pepper – is wash it off, soak it, cut it all up and freeze it. That way, it can stretch…

Read more of Ginny’s story here.

Inspiration #5

When we put out a call for people to write letters of hope and support that would go to our clients along with Thanksgiving groceries, thousands of letters flooded in, including one from San Francisco 49er Kevin Jurovich and a stack of letters and drawings from school children, some even in Spanish and Chinese… 

Read more about the Thanksgiving notes here.

 

Inspiration #6

Behind every one of our 200+ neighborhood grocery pantries are the volunteer pantry coordinators who take on the tremendous job of getting the food distributed every week. Here’s how a coordinator at one of our newest Healthy Children pantries sees the impact it’s making on a school in Marin…

A lot of people would probably be surprised to see the hunger and homelessness we encounter. It’s a wake-up call, especially here in Marin County. We discovered that we had between 100 and 110 homeless students at our school at any given time, and the only meals they ate were from our cafeteria. So not only were the students not getting a meal before or after school, the rest of their family wasn’t, either. That kind of instability, of constantly moving, of never living under your own roof or having enough to eat – that creates a tough environment for a child. These are some serious obstacles to learning. But I think our market is helping. It’s a small act with a big impact.

Read more about this wonderful new pantry here.  These are just a few of the people who inspired us this year. (There are a lot more stories here.) To all our many volunteers, donors, staff and clients, we give our sincere thanks – and our promise that we’ll work even harder in 2011, to make sure every family in our community has the food they need to thrive. If you’d like to help inspire us, please visit our website to learn more, donate and volunteer.

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