Paula Deen Delivers 35,000 pounds of Smithfield hams and lunch meat to our warehouse!

“Good morning, y’all!!” Cooking superstar Paula Deen called out to our warehouse crew. She was visiting the San Francisco Food Bank, to bring us a tractor-trailer truckload of hams, lunch meats and other protein items. “The thought that a single child in this country might be going hungry is just devastating to me,” she said, telling the story of a time in her life when she needed help putting food on the table.

Paula delivered the much-needed food along with representatives from Smithfield, Safeway and the United Food and Commercial Workers Union – all sponsors of the program, which has donated to food banks around the country. Together, they formed a “bucket brigade” to unload hams, with Paula slinging a few through the air to food bank Deputy Executive Director Leslie Bacho (see the slideshow!).

The donation is particularly welcome, because protein is expensive and hard to come by. We’re thrilled to be able to provide our clients with these much-needed hams and lunch meat. But with 22,000 families visiting our pantries every week, it will be gone in no time!

“It’s hard to get by”

Ginny is a pantry client a the mother of a teenage boy

Ginny is a Food Bank pantry client and the mother of a teenage boy. She shared her perspective with us in a recent conversation:

I grew up in San Francisco and before, you used to be able to get so much more for your money. And now it’s extremely hard to get by.

First things first, I pay my rent. And I pay the PG&E. And I pay the phone. Sometimes I’ll not pay one bill to pay for another. And then don’t pay for that bill to pay another bill just to keep everything caught up. To not get cut off. But it seems like I’m never out of the hole.

Then my son will be saying, “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.

soup and rice at a Food Bank pantry

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.

Then there’s Food Stamps. What happens with that is, they’ll deny me and then they give it to the child. It’s $200. I appreciate it, but once I asked them, how did you come up with $200? And the lady told me, “it’s not for you. It’s not for you, it’s for him. Six dollars and change every day for a month.”

My son comes first. I want him to go to college, most definitely. I don’t want my son to be another statistic. But to do that, he needs to grow up and learn to be a man. Children have to make mistakes to learn from them. So I give him a little leeway and he has his curfew and his cell phone so I can keep track of what he’s doing. I know a lot of people would say he really doesn’t need that phone. Well, I feel that he does. Because that keeps me sane – to know where he is, to know that he can check in with me.

Still, a lot of times, we get into arguments. And that is so ridiculous. To be yelling at your child because he ate. Because there’s no bread. To yell at your child because he drank all the milk. And that’s how you start your day. Your child gets up and says, “mom, what is there to eat?” “Well, THERE’S NOTHING TO EAT BECAUSE YOU ATE EVERYTHING!” It’s just ridiculous to be arguing with your child in the morning, on the way to school, because he don’t have nothing to eat. I mean, he feels like, “Hey. You had me. You should be able to feed me.” And you feel less than a mom.

I know it’s clear to him that I’m trying. But he’s just frustrated. How can he sit in school all day hungry? He wants to study business. He used to want to be an attorney. I’m trying to figure out how I’m going to pay for even one credit. I mean, look. I’ve been working since I was 12. Started out with a paper route, did a youth program and then I worked in the delis and the restaurants, but then I got injured. People don’t come onto this earth thinking they’re going to be poor. I’m just glad at least some people have love and compassion.

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