Lily’s Determination to End Bay Area Hunger

February 21, 2020

Twenty-three tons is no match for Lily, one of our super-sheroes! That’s the amount of rice that was collected with her determination and dedication to ending Bay Area hunger.

Like most other teenagers, Lily’s very busy with her schoolwork, her favorite class being band where she plays the French horn. And, she loves to play classical guitar, hang out with her friends and listen to Billy Eilish and the AJR Band. What’s different is that Lily is a major fundraiser for good!

When Lily was just six years old, she began appealing for donations to buy gifts and clothes for foster kids and homeless youth through her own nonprofit, www.givewithlily.com. From there, she expanded to helping feed the hungry. Her desire to help those facing hunger was, in part, spurred one Halloween when she saw other kids collecting cans of food while trick or treating. Lily joined in and got over 90lbs of cans.

Her commitment continued to grow in 6th grade when several classes competed to get the most donations of canned food; Lily was determined that her class win. When her class was coming in dead last, she stepped up to collect money to buy 1,100 cans of food! There wasn’t any rule against doing that and she wanted to win–and that’s just what they did due to Lily’s ingenuity and determination.

Supersizing her donations

Lily realized that she could get more bang from her buck if she bought food in bulk for donations to the local food banks. She did some research and cold-called rice distributors, while at the same time, collected the money to buy and deliver the rice. When she first approached a bulk rice provider, she was told that $1000 would get her one ton of rice.

A week later, she called the rice supplier back, and they generously told her that now she could get two tons. While working out the delivery details, she called them again and was pleasantly surprised to find out that she would get three tons for $1,000! She quickly mailed the check and arranged the delivery while continuing to raise more money. After a couple of weeks, she noticed that her check had not been cashed and started to worry that something was wrong. When she talked with them, they said, “The rice is on us, and we’re going to tear up the check!” Lily was pleasantly surprised by their continued generosity, and now she had $1,000 to get more rice.

Once again, Lily was determined to maximize the amount of rice she could get for her money. This time, she went directly to a larger California rice distributor and bought an additional three tons of rice. Now she had six tons and arranged its delivery to us in December of 2018.

As you can tell by now, once Lily figures out how to beat her record, she keeps going. Between July 2019 and January 31, 2020, she bought and arranged delivery for another seventeen tons of rice, making her total twenty-three tons! The rice was not just for our foodbank, but also for the Alameda County Community Food Bank, the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano as well as Second Harvest. We were thrilled to bag it for the other food banks. Lily was thrilled too and so grateful for all her amazing donors for trusting her with their money and helping her with logistics.

When asked what message she has for others, Lily’s said, “Hunger is everywhere, and if we don’t help, who will?” We are so grateful for Lily’s compassion and dedication to helping provide #FoodforAll. Thank you, Lily, with all our hearts.

 

 

 

School Pantries Make a Difference in a Family’s Life

February 12, 2020

Walking into any elementary school at the end of the day is filled with lots of hustle and bustle as kids run to the playground to greet friends and their parents or guardians. That’s certainly the case at Paul Revere Elementary San Francisco’s Bernal Heights neighborhood. Although, there is a difference with this school’s day end and that’s the long tables in the entrance filled with brimming baskets of colorful fresh produce and stables like lentils and rice. That is our Healthy Children’s Pantry.

Since 2004, we started the Healthy Children Pantry Program to make it easier for parents to get healthy food by having pantries at their children’s schools. It was a simple but powerful innovation: By bringing food to busy families in a location they already visit daily, we’ve been able to serve more families than ever before. Now with 58 pantries, parents and guardians throughout San Francisco and Marin can take home healthy groceries once a week when they pick up or drop off their children without having to make any extra stops.

Lilian is one mom who greatly appreciates the Paul Revere pantry. She works full-time cleaning houses and her husband works full-time in construction. With two young children, they struggle to keep up with the rising costs of the city. Finding time to get food is an additional challenge. Some of these time and budget constraints are reduced by having the pantry located at their children’s school. “It’s so convenient. I am so thankful to the Food Bank and their supporters for helping to keep our family healthy,” said Lillian.

Food for Brain Power

Although the Healthy Children’s Pantry has been very successful in helping fight hunger, we don’t stop there. Time after time, principals and teachers tell us the same thing: kids can’t learn when they’re hungry. That’s why we started the Morning Snack Program back in the early 2000s. Through this first-of-its-kind program, 21 high-need public schools throughout San Francisco and Marin receive daily deliveries of healthy snack items such as fresh fruits, whole grain crackers, and string cheese.

Many low-income children don’t eat enough food outside of school to support their growing bodies and minds. Snacks give students a healthy boost mid-morning when they need it most. Teachers report morning snacks give students additional energy to learn and to stay focused during the school day. Over 4,800 kids a day can start school with nutritious food that helps keep hunger at bay and learning in the forefront.

Cousins Estrellia and Luz, students at Paul Revere, are budding math geniuses powered by morning snack. Addition and subtraction are no challenge for this dynamic duo. Every day, between breakfast and lunch, the girls look forward to enjoying a healthy snack. Estrellia loves apples the most while Luz prefers kiwi. They are grateful to the Foodbank for these snacks, “Thank you for the good food. It helps us learn.”

Paul Revere Healthy Children's Pantry

New Pantries Open to Serve Even More Neighborhoods

February 5, 2020

In the last couple of months, we’ve opened two pantries expanding our San Francisco Neighborhood Grocery Network.

Finding a new pantry partner is not always an easy task. Ask Ashley Wong, one of our Pantry coordinators, “A potential pantry partner needs to have a lead volunteer coordinator and a consistent volunteer team that can dedicate hours of their schedule every week to support the pantry–and that’s a lot to ask.” It’s not only a time investment and physical commitment (those bags of potatoes are heavy!), but also an emotional one because creating a supportive pantry with excellent welcoming service, although rewarding, can also be heartbreaking. Ashley added, “We also need a pantry that is inclusive to people of all abilities. To meet that critical need, we require locations that have sizable storage space and, importantly, easy, safe access for all the pantry participants and volunteers.”

The Father’s House Pantry

We typically find pantry partners through outreach to community organizations, some of which are introduced to us by one of our existing partners. That’s how Ashley connected with one of our latest partner, The Father’s House in the Outer Sunset/Lake Merced area. The organization’s team was looking for ways to further serve their community and was reaching out to its partners. We connected and three months later, last December, they opened the doors to a new pantry.

“This pantry has steadily grown due to the continuing outreach in the community and the Father’s House team’s commitment to providing great customer service to everyone who comes by. Their endless dedication and energy continue to awe me. I look forward to the many years of partnership ahead of us,” said Ashley.

The Father’s House pantry is open Thursdays from 5:00 pm – 6:00 pm and is located at 269 Herbst Road at the Pomeroy Recreation & Rehabilitation Center. All San Francisco residents in need of food assistance are welcome to enroll in this pantry. We ask only that they bring a photo ID with a current residential address, or photo ID and a piece of mail with a current residential address.

Serving the Richmond Neighborhood

In early January, we also opened a pantry in San Francisco’s Richmond neighborhood. With more than 19,500 Richmond District residents at high risk of food insecurity—nearly 25% of the entire population of the neighborhood—we’re trying hard to close this hunger gap by looking for potential pantry partners. This time a long-time ally stepped up and is now in charge of three pantries in the neighborhood. “With the help of our dedicated community partners, Richmond Neighborhood Center, and our host, George Peabody Elementary School, we’re excited that we can expand our services in the Richmond neighborhood,” said Gary Lau, Program coordinator.