Hunger Takes Over the Headlines

A pantry volunteer holds golden beets, one of many healthy SF Food Bank offerings for Thanksgiving

This Thanksgiving, the San Francisco Food Bank made sure that 30,000 households enjoyed a fresh, healthy holiday dinner. But shocking news stories about hunger in the Bay Area – and across our country – underscore the fact that more and more people every day are seeking help.

In the past two years, San Francisco has seen an 18% increase in people receiving food stamps; in Marin the increase is an astounding 45%. This New York Times article talks about the rising need all across the U.S. – and notes that many of those eligible in California aren’t even receiving food stamps:

Food Stamp Use Soars

With food stamp use at record highs and climbing every month, a program once scorned as a failed welfare scheme now helps feed one in eight Americans and one in four children…

Also, the Times has created an interactive map showing changes in food stamp usage across the country.

You might be amazed to know how much of our food goes to waste. This NBC story reveals that…

40% Of Food Produced Goes To Waste, While One In Six Go Hungry

Vicki Escarra, the president and CEO of Feeding America [the national organization of food banks], calls hunger America’s “dirty little secret.” Mara Schiavocampo from NBC Nightly News discovered America’s hunger problems first-hand as she visited a struggling family…

Seniors have been hit particularly hard by the recession. Read about it in his Associated Press story:

Recession sends older Americans to food pantries

The number of seniors living alone who seek help from food pantries in the U.S. increased 81 percent to 408,000 in 2008, compared to 225,000 in 2006, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture…

Locally, the San Francisco Chronicle reported on the ever-growing number of requests that the San Francisco Food Bank is receiving for help:

More Americans going hungry

The San Francisco Food Bank has seen requests for assistance increase 20 percent compared with this time last year, with fewer donations, and will deliver Thanksgiving meals to 30,000 households, up from 22,000 last year…

The Chronicle reminded its readers that the holidays, coupled with a greater and greater, need make it crucial for all of us to help:

An opportune time to help feed the hungry

Pushed by recession, nearly 50 million people are skipping meals unwillingly, forgoing a balanced diet, or signing up for food stamps or giveaway programs, the measures used to come up a broad-brush picture of hunger in America. The figure is the highest on record since the Agriculture Department began tracking “food insecurity…”

What can you do to help? Volunteer at our warehouse or one of our grocery distribution pantries. Donate food or money – for every $1 donated, we can provide $9 worth of food to hungry San Franciscans. Urge your elected officials to make ending hunger a key part of their agenda. Visit our website to learn more.

Fifth Recession Relief Grocery Pantry Opens

smiling 3Last week, San Francisco Food Bank opened our fifth special Recession Relief Grocery Pantry – this one, at Geneva Avenue Methodist United Church, in partnership with Nueva Vida Ministerios.

These new pantries were created to serve people hit by the recession who have not accessed food assistance before. (If you need food, and live in San Francisco, dial 2-1-1 on your phone for the pantry nearest you.)

Who are the people visiting this grocery pantry, getting help for the first time?


Ines (shown in the photo above with her two daughters) is from Guanajuato, Mexico. Both she and her husband work at a company that puts on events, but business has been slow lately. She said that sometimes there’s only work 2 days out of the week, so money is very tight. She marveled at all the variety on offer and said she was glad that her daughters had something to eat.

Ramon is from the Philippines and he’d heard about the pantry through his brother-in-law. He has a part-time job at a shipping company, which he managed to get 6 months ago when he was let go from his previous job (also at a shipping company). He said he felt lucky to have that job, even though it’s not enough hours, because so many people don’t have work at all. He said he was having depression issues. He also kept saying that he felt like other people need the help more than he does, and seemed to be struggling with the idea of having to get help:

“When my brother-in-law told me about this, I was a little hesitant, to be honest. I see people who need help more than I do. People who don’t have a home, or people who have bigger problems. And when you walk around on the street, people don’t see you like you are someone who goes to the food bank. I don’t want to tell people that. I don’t think of myself like that. I don’t see myself that way – so many people need help more than I do. But it’s hard to make enough money these days. It’s so hard to find a job.”

cute old lady volunteers

Despite being in the fog-blanketed Outer Mission, this grocery pantry has some of the sunniest, most excited volunteers ever. Many are parents or grandparents who bring children along to share the spirit of giving; quite a few are multilingual, easing the way for those new to the process. They’re thrilled to be helping out friends and neighbors, many of whom hadn’t known where to turn or had been afraid to ask for help.

smiling woman cukes

young volunteers

distribution - tomatoes

In its first two weeks, the pantry has offered a bounty of groceries from the SF Food Bank warehouse, including fresh watermelons, mushrooms, zucchini, strawberries, plums, potatoes, onions, cantaloupe, two kinds of summer squash, corn, carrots, yams, bananas, cucumbers and tomatoes – plus rice, pizza dough, chicken sausage with spinach and feta and peach Izzy sodas.

CU plums

CU strawberries

CU mushrooms

CU bananas

This week, the Geneva grocery pantry served more than 65 thankful families, and we’re expecting that number to increase every week, as word spreads.

Rallying around food in Marin and the Outer Mission

Recession relief comes to Marin

This past weekend saw the opening of the Food Bank’s newest recession relief pantry in San Rafael’s Canal District. 175 families came out on that first day and were welcomed with an ample supply of groceries including: eggs, milk, bananas, onions, potatoes, carrots, chicken broth, yams, bagged rice, nectarines, corn, Brussels sprouts, and lettuce.

Marin recession pantry volunteer

The pantry is run and operated by a collaboration of local community leaders, volunteers, and the Canal Welcome Center. Located in the Canal district of San Rafael, the organization acts as a hub of services from job training, ESL classes and immigration referrals to business workshops, civic and voting education, financial literacy, free tax aid and more.

Canal Welcome Center

The opening attracted a higher turnout than expected, and we anticipate the distribution growing to over 200 families in its second week. For more on the Food Bank’s recession relief efforts, please click here.

Youth-Run Healthy Children Pantry in the Outer Mission

Excelsior Teen Center volunteer

The Excelsior Teen Center (ETC) is the site of a second new Food Bank pantry in the Outer Mission. The ETC offers teens a chance to participate in leadership development, violence prevention, employment training and placement, and afterschool and summer programs. They also serve as a safe space drop-in center for youth from 3-7pm for youth from all over the city.

Teen volunteer at Outer Mission pantry

Visitors to the pantry were ecstatic and went home to tell their neighbors about the pepperoni, squash, potatoes, yams, Brussels sprouts, green beans, mangoes, oranges, bell peppers, lettuce, pasta, popcorn, cottage cheese, onions, beets, cucumbers, and bananas.

Two More Grocery Pantries Open this Week!


This past Saturday, San Francisco Food Bank opened its second Recession Relief Grocery Pantry. This one is located at Old First Presbyterian Church, on Sacramento and Van Ness streets.


These new pantries are specially designed to serve people hit by the recession who have not accessed food assistance before.


Fifteen enthusiastic volunteers from both Old First and San Francisco Food Bank’s Volunteer Services department turned out to help.  All the great summer produce is coming in, and we were thrilled to have such a wonderful selection of fresh vegetables to hand out.


Partcipants received reusable bags, carrots, onions, green onions, corn, potatoes, yams, celery, chicken stock, pesto, chicken sausage, brussel sprouts, asparagus, rice, grape flavored drink mix, and bread.


Today, we also opened a new Healthy Children Grocery Pantry at 201 Turk Street in the Tenderloin, in collaboration with Chinatown Community Development Center, which serves more than 110 families.

Healthy Children grocery pantries are often located at schools or community centers, so we can reach families with children, who are in particular need of food assistance over the summer, when they can’t access a school meals program.


Pantry participants received asparagus, yellow squash, butter lettuce, corn, oranges, onions, carrots, peas, Brussels sprouts, cereal, cottage cheese, pasta, Chex Mix and Capri Sun.

More than 60 families attended the pantry today. Everyone was very excited and grateful to get the good food.

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