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.

New Hybrid Truck Rolls Out Savings – and a New Look

San Francisco Food Bank client Onesimo Flores joins California State Assemblywoman Fiona Ma and Food Bank Deputy Executive Director Leslie Bacho in front of the new hybrid truck. Food Bank client Ava is depicted on the truck, enjoying a "very, very, very, very, very special delivery."

The San Francisco Food Bank recently celebrated the arrival of our first hybrid truck. Not only will the new truck mean a 38% savings in fuel costs, but it will also cut back on noise and pollution in neighborhood areas when deliveries are made.

The new truck’s look is as bold as its fuel savings. Actual Food Bank clients are pictured on each side, holding groceries like those the truck will be delivering to our 200+ pantries.

Our new truck, with some of the produce it will be delivering to hungry children, seniors and families.

Over the next five years, the San Francisco Food Bank aims to replace all 11 diesel trucks in our fleet with hybrid vehicles, in order to meet state-mandated regulations.

With our entire fleet converted to hybrid, we’ll see a fuel savings of approximately $25,842 every year. That’s enough to distribute an additional 103,000 pounds of food—or enough groceries for more than 80,700 meals!

The media turned out in full force for the truck’s launch (including three different TV stations), and California State Assemblywoman Fiona Ma joined in the festivities, along with a very proud SF Food Bank client, Onesimo Flores, 74, who is pictured on the truck.

SF Food Bank client, Onesimo Flores, 74, poses next to his photo on the new truck.

Our Grants Department worked tirelessly to make the new hybrid truck a reality. The truck purchase was made possible by a generous $100,000 lead gift from the Trustees’ Philanthropy Fund of the Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund and a $30,000 voucher from the California Air Resources Board’s Hybrid Voucher Incentive Project (HVIP).

The San Francisco Food Bank is grateful to all of the community partners supporting the effort to green our fleet: CALSTART, Eaton, Pacific Gas and Electric Company, Coast Counties Peterbilt and Peterbilt Motors Company.

Thanks also goes out to Susan Fleming photography and advertising agency Engine Company 1, for helping us with the truck’s new look and text.

We need your help, too! Replacing all of our fleet with hybrid trucks in just five years is a huge challenge. If you’d like to help, please contact our Development Department at 415-292-1900.

5-year old Phoebe raises over $3,736 for San Francisco Food Bank!

Phoebe, with her fundraising box (Photo by Madeline Pfeiffer)

Phoebe, with her fundraising box (Photo by M. Pfeiffer)

For her pre-school public service project, a 5-year old named Phoebe was determined to help feed some of the 150,000 San Franciscans who are unsure where their next meal is coming from. So she started collecting empty cans to turn in for the recycling money. Her plan was to donate the proceeds to the San Francisco Food Bank.


Phoebe with some of the cans she recycled (Photo by M. Pfeiffer)

She also created a hand-written plea for cash donations and distributed it to family, friends and pre-school alumni.


Phoebe’s teacher, Kathleen, always asks each student to perform a public service project before graduation. Past graduates operated lemonade stands and donated their proceeds to the food bank, but Phoebe was the first to come up with the idea of recycling cans. Her goal was to raise $1,000.

Every Thursday, she would count her money and report to the San Francisco Food Bank’s Events and Food Drives team.


Every Thursday, Phoebe counted the money she had raised (Photo by M. Pfeiffer)

A mention by San Francisco Chronicle columnist C.W. Nevius helped spread the word about Phoebe’s efforts. Caring people dropped off bags of cans on the school’s steps and left envelopes of cash in the school’s mailbox.

Some of the money Phoebe raised (Photo by Madeline Pfeiffer)

Some of the money Phoebe raised (Photo by M. Pfeiffer)

In just a few weeks, Phoebe collected 4,497 cans and raised a total of $3,736.30!

On June 25, Phoebe and her teacher presented a special box that Phoebe created, stuffed with checks and cash, to Paul Ash, Executive Director of the San Francisco Food Bank at Phoebe’s pre-school. Two TV news crews and two websites turned out to document the event.

Phoebe presents the money she raised to Paul Ash

Phoebe presents the money she raised to Paul Ash

Paul presented Phoebe with a certificate of thanks from the food bank. As he said, “There are not many people your age – not many people of any age – that have made this sort of contribution to help other people. So on behalf of all those people who are going to have food on their table because of you, thank you very much.”

Phoebe with her certificate from the San Francisco Food Bank

Phoebe with her certificate from the San Francisco Food Bank

Because the San Francisco Food Bank can turn a $1 donation into $9 worth of food, the amount 5-year old Phoebe raised allows us to distribute $33,626.70 worth of groceries – enough for about 17,971 meals.

Sign Phoebe made about her final total

Sign Phoebe made about her final total

Here’s a video showing Phoebe, her teacher, Kathleen, and the presentation:

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