Jacques Story | A Changing Economy Makes It Harder To Make Ends Meet

June 8, 2019

Each morning, Jacques rises early, gets ready for the day, and takes his 10-year-old daughter, Shaila, to school. As a single dad, Jacques cares for Shaila and his 80-year-old mother.  Mondays are especially busy, but in a good way.  When Jacques drops off Shaila at Dolores Huerta Elementary School, she heads for her classroom and her father heads for the Food Bank’s Health Children pantry near the campus play yard.

“If I open up the fridge on a Sunday and nothing is in there, then I have to make sure to put something in there,” he says.

It didn’t use to be like this.  Jacques was a mortgage broker until the 2008 recession made it hard to find work in real estate.  He now drives for a ridesharing company in addition to juggling several other jobs to make ends meet.  “I’ve been [in San Francisco] for a while, and I’ve never seen poverty like I’ve seen in the past couple of years,” says Jacques.


Shaila is a bright girl, at the top of her class, and Jacques wants to ensure that she has no limits to her future ambitions — which currently range from being a pop star to a police officer to a vet. Once Shaila is at school, Jacques starts driving for the ridesharing company until it’s time to pick her up. He then takes her home to her grandmother while he heads out for more driving until dinner, a special time that Jacques never misses. It’s a central part of their family’s routine; a time to share about their day, a time to connect and enjoy a nutritious meal.  “I ask her about her day, and try to be present as a father because that’s so important,” he says. Often, he has to go back out for more driving after his daughter goes to bed.


As he drives, Jacques thinks about how to provide for his family, and what they will have to eat for the next day and week. The weight of his role as the sole earner is heavy in a costly city like San Francisco.  Jacques and his mother plan out their meals for the week, usually starting on Monday when he comes home with a big box of groceries from the pantry. “This pantry has been great,” he says. “It’s been a life saver and eye opener. I needed it because food is so expensive.”  For Jacques and his family, the groceries they receive from the Food Bank help to fill the gap as he works hard to make ends meet. He says, “Thank you for taking care of me and so many people like me who are really trying to do the right thing but who are having a hard time making it.”

Food Bank Milestone | Paul Ash’s 30th Anniversary

April 10, 2019

In the land of food banking, you won’t find too many people with the institutional knowledge and experience of our executive director, Paul Ash.

Paul joined the then San Francisco Food Bank when it was just getting off the ground – April 1st, 1989 to be exact.  Fortunately for us, this was no April Fool’s Joke. And even more fortunate is the fact that Paul never left!

He’s been a guiding light for ending hunger for so many years, but don’t take our word for it.  Check out what others are saying about Paul and add your own message in the comments section below.

“For over 30 years, Paul has dedicated his career to serving hungry residents in San Francisco. We celebrate not only his commitment to supporting our underrepresented communities, but also his steadfast leadership of one of San Francisco’s most important institutions.”
-San Francisco Mayor London Breed

“We congratulate Paul Ash on his 30th anniversary with the Food Bank.  Paul Ash has been for these decades an essential partner with GLIDE in our mutual commitment to alleviate suffering, hunger and food insecurity.  Paul is a relentless warrior for the poor and those who are pushed to the margins of our society.  We extend our gratitude and admiration and love to Paul Ash.”
-Rev. Cecil Williams and Janice Mirikitani, CoFounders, GLIDE

“Cheers to you, Paul!  When you joined the food bank it was just a small but mighty team in a dilapidated warehouse on 3rd street, distributing less than a million pounds of food a year and operating in the red. But you had a belief that access to food is a basic human right and a vision for how to grow the organization to the tremendous community leader it is today. You were always generous with your time, and a leader at the state and national level.  You are also a mentor to many current leaders in the food bank network (Paul is the only ED who can say three current food bank CEOs are former direct reports). Creative and disciplined, you have always kept the organization focused on how it can corral any available resources to have the biggest impact on ending hunger, and that is a very special talent.”
-Leslie Bacho, CEO of 2nd Harvest Food Bank of San Jose and San Mateo

“When I started working for the Food Bank we were distributing about 3 million pounds per year. Paul was just a couple of years into the job and already forming his vision for the organization.  The first thing I noticed was he had the ability to always pick the opportunity that fit with the Food Banks vision.  It made our growth possible with the limited funding available. His vision still endures today as we distribute close to 50 million pounds of food per year.
-Gary Maxworthy, Former Board Member, creator of the state’s Farm to Family program.

“Congratulations Paul…you have done an amazing job transforming the then San Francisco Food Bank from a very small, but needed, organization in the late 80s to a Bay Area powerhouse charity that now serves over 200,000 people in San Francisco and Marin each year. It would be impossible to quantify just how many lives you changed and saved in your tenure, but it’s a lot and you should be  commended for that.”
-Michael Terris, Food Bank Board President & partner at Terris, Barnes & Walters

Please take a moment to leave your own well wishes and recollections about Paul in our comments section below.

Paul’s Secrets for Great Super Bowl Chili

January 21, 2019

It’s a sure bet many people will be glued to their couches and barcaloungers come Super Bowl Sunday. But it’s not just about the football, and those clever, multi-million dollar commercials.  Super Bowl Sunday is also a time to enjoy food, from chips and dip to buffalo wings and everything in between.

For many years, Food Bank Executive Director Paul Ash has cooked up pots of homemade chili for employees to enjoy in the lead up to the big game. Paul has dusted off his favorite recipe, and is willing to share it with the world once again.  Enjoy!

Tips to Make the Tastiest Super Bowl Chili

  • Start with your favorite chili recipe.  The Best Chili Ever Recipe” from www.seriouseats.com is a great place to start.
  • Use fresh chili peppers when possible. Canned chilis are good, but if you can go with fresh chilis, I think they make the overall product taste better. They also give the dish some color.  I like to use jalapeños to add a little heat. If you’re looking for something spicier, consider adding some serannos or even habaneros.
  • Toast and grind. Another personal touch is to toast your spices in a hot frying pan, just until fragrant.  I use a mortar and pestle to freshly grind some of the spices when I can. Things like cumin, coriander, and chili. Again, if you have to use packaged spices, you’re still going to be ok. I’ll add a little bitter chocolate to the mix as well, again to taste.
  • To soak or not to soak? I tend to favor Texas-style hearty meats and big proportions, but I add beans liberally. And contrary to common practice, I do not soak the beans in advance – I do a quick simmer for an hour and then add them to the concoction.
  • Listen to your taste buds.  I’m a big ad-libber and mostly look at recipes for the ingredient lists.  I pretty much mix and match and vary the quantities, tasting and adjusting the quantities of salt, chili peppers and other spices as I go. My taste buds are my most important measuring spoon.
  • Refrigerate overnight before feasting.  If you can possibly wait, make your chili the day before and refrigerate it overnight, which allows the flavors to meld together. It’s been my experience that the chili is always better the second day…and the third day too!

The best part of the experience is heating up the chili the morning of the big meal, dishing it up to friends and family, and seeing smiles on their faces when they take that first bite. Having a bevy of toppings at the ready is a nice touch too. Things like grated cheese, diced onions, and sour cream will add to the overall presentation.

If you’re looking for a vegetarian-friendly chili recipe, Food Bank Nutrition Education Program Director Molly Burke recommends this delicious Vegan White Bean Chili recipe from our friends at www.eatfresh.org.

Mike’s Story | From Homeless to Hopeful | VIDEO

October 25, 2018

Mike is a volunteer and former participant at our Food Bank pantry on Treasure Island. He credits the Food Bank and his relationships at the pantry for helping him transform his life – watch the video below and see how Mike has overcome homelessness, found work, and is now building hope for the future.



Food Bank Favorites: Emily’s Thanksgiving Portobello Recipe

October 24, 2018

“Here’s my somewhat famous Thanksgiving *vegetarian* dish – a portobello recipe to please everyone. You will not miss turkey with this!” – Emily

Click here to download the printable version of this Food Bank Favorite Recipe.

Emily C., Food Resources Team | YIELD: 6-8 servings | TIME: 75 minutes


6-8 large Portobello caps, stems removed
2 medium onion – finely diced
1 clove garlic – finely diced
5 stalks celery – finely diced
5 med carrots – finely diced
8-oz. sliced mushrooms (Cremini, Portobello or button)*
2 apples, peeled, cored, and diced
½ cup raisins
½ cup almond slivers
16-oz. package stuffing mix (vegetarian)
2 ½ cups vegetable stock
½ cup white wine (optional)
2 cups Panko crumbs
¼ cup grated parmesan
½ tsp. poultry seasoning spice mix
1 stick unsalted butter
Salt and pepper to taste

*Note from Emily: I usually slice the stems from the big mushrooms and add to the stuffing – no food waste!


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Wash mushroom caps well and put aside.
Melt ½ stick butter in large frying pan. Add onions, and sauté until clear. Add sliced mushrooms. Sauté until very well browned.
Add celery, carrots, sauté for another 5-10 min. Add apples, raisins, almonds, stuffing mix, veg stock and wine, stir well to mix, then set aside briefly, off heat.
Microwave remaining butter in a small dish until melted, and use a teaspoon of it to grease a large baking dish (about 9 x 13). Put remaining butter aside.
Spread dressing mixture in baking dish. Then, place mushroom caps with stem side down on top of dressing.
Mix panko crumbs, parmesan, poultry seasoning, plus salt and pepper to taste in a large bowl – stir well. Use last of melted butter to brush onto mushroom caps. Drizzle remaining butter over dish.
Sprinkle seasoned mixture of panko and parmesan liberally (thickly) to cover mushroom caps and dressing well.
Bake until browned, about 45 – 50 minutes.

Check out all of our Food Bank Favorite Recipes for the holiday season:



Toby’s Story | Not Our Forever Situation

October 20, 2018

When you think of Tiburon, you probably think of multi-million dollar homes and gorgeous views from this bayside Marin County town. Or perhaps what comes to mind are chic cafes and boutique shops that dot the quaint streets as luxury cars pass by. What you probably don’t think about is the very real hunger problem that exists in this wealthy enclave just north of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Nestled about halfway between Highway 101 and Tiburon’s tony downtown is the Hilarita Apartment complex, one of several subsidized housing facilities in the area. It is home to about 100 families, including 25-year-old Toby and his mom. After graduating from the College of Marin with a degree in chemistry, Toby moved back home to help his ailing mother while he looks for his first “real job.”

Toby’s mother has a chronic hip problem, and for now, the two are living on her disability and social security benefits. After paying rent, there isn’t much money left to spend, even for essentials like food. Toby was “blown away” when he learned that the Food Bank was opening a food pantry at Hilarita this past spring, and says it has really saved him and his mom, at an especially vulnerable time.

“The pantry helps out a lot, because I’m still looking for work. So there’s the financial issue,” Toby says. “Eventually I’m going to get a job – hopefully something in biotech – so this isn’t our forever situation. But until then, every little bit helps. To some people, the money we save on groceries might seem insignificant, but for me and my mom, it makes a big difference.”

Since April of 2018, more than 30 families like Toby’s are able to pick up fresh groceries at the Hilarita pantry every week – fresh vegetables and fruits, protein like chicken drumsticks, and grains. These items help stretch dollars so residents can pay their rent, PG&E bills and buy medicine.

“The food pantry also helps us to stay in touch with the community. I like to see my neighbors – some of them anyway,” Toby says with a laugh. “Tuesday is a day to come down here to say hello, to check in with everybody. We see how they’re doing and then head home with fresh food for the week.”

As an added bonus, they pantry has encouraged Toby to make healthier food choices too:  “I actually started eating carrots again because of this place” he says.  “I used to eat them as a boy, so I grabbed some the other day, and now I’m back to eating carrots all the time as snacks.”

Hilarita residents, many of whom are low income, have been asking about a pantry for more than two years, but issues with the property managers made collaborating with the site difficult. Then the nonprofit ‘EAH Housing’ took over and committed to making the pantry a reality. “It took some extra perseverance,” says Food Bank pantry liaison Edith Cadena, “but when we finally opened up our doors it was real source of pride, not just for myself, but other food bankers, and especially the residents.”

Food Bank Favorites: Sammy’s Sweet Potato Casserole

October 19, 2018

“This is my sister’s sweet potato recipe. Even when she doubles it for Thanksgiving, there is never enough.” -Kera

Click here to download the printable version of this Food Bank Favorite Recipe.

Kera J., Development Team | YIELD: 6-8 servings | TIME: 90 minutes


4 large sweet potatoes
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 1/2 tbsp. dry sherry
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. nutmeg


Peel sweet potatoes and cut into 1-inch cubes. Put into a medium saucepan and add enough water to cover the potatoes.
Bring sweet potatoes to a boil, then simmer over medium-low heat until soft, about 20 minutes – you can poke with a fork to test if they are done. Drain and let cool a little.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
With electric mixer, whip all of the ingredients except the nutmeg until light and fluffy.
Pour into a buttered casserole dish and spread out evenly. (Note from Sammy: at this point you can cover the casserole dish and put in fridge overnight if you want to make ahead)
Sprinkle with nutmeg and bake for 45 minutes.

Check out all of our Food Bank Favorite Recipes for the holiday season:



Food Bank Favorites: Gama Joann’s Corn Pudding Recipe

October 17, 2018

“When I asked my mother-in-law to submit one of her many Thanksgiving recipes, she responded with this: ‘I would offer my Corn Pudding recipe as one that is a more atypical dish on today’s Thanksgiving tables, but likely to have been one on the Pilgrims’ table.’ The Pilgrims must have had it good, for this dish is not only delectable in taste, but elegant in appearance. A light golden-brown crust, in a square CorningWare dish, perfectly baked with just the right amount of kernels protruding from the top. Outside of the big bird, itself, Joann’s Corn Pudding is the big attraction every Thanksgiving. Even the pickiest of eaters find themselves craving seconds. Enjoy!” – Mark

Click here to download the printable version of this Food Bank Favorite Recipe.

Mark S., PR Manager | YIELD: 4-6 servings | TIME: 60 minutes


2 cups frozen corn (no need to thaw)
2 eggs
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups scalded milk, cooled
2 tsp. sugar or honey
4 Tbsp. melted butter, divided
1/2 tsp. salt


Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
In a medium bowl, stir flour, salt, sugar, and 2 Tbsp. butter with corn.
In another bowl, beat eggs; stir in the milk and then add liquid to the corn mixture.
Pour into a greased 9×9” baking dish.
Bake for a total of 45 minutes or until firm.

*Note from Joann: After first 15 minutes of baking, gently stir pudding from the bottom, and then once again 15 minutes later. Before returning to the over after the second stir, pour remaining 2 Tbsp. of butter over pudding top and continue baking for the last 15 minutes or until it starts to brown on the top.

Check out all of our Food Bank Favorite Recipes for the holiday season:

Food Bank Favorites: Grandma Daisy’s Noodle Kugel Recipe

October 10, 2018

Grandma Daisy (left) and Alex’s mom, Pam

“This noodle kugel recipe is copied directly from my mom’s Rolodex – old school!  It is such a beloved recipe among my whole extended family and every friend who has ever come to a holiday celebration (Rosh Hashana, Thanksgiving, even Passover) at the Goldman household! Grandma Daisy was such a carefree and fun-loving spirit. My favorite memory, which embodies this quality to the extreme, was when we were at my cousin’s Bat Mitzvah, she danced so hard that she fell and broke her wrist! She was in her 80’s at this point, but she never really slowed down.” –  Alex

Click here to download the printable version of this Food Bank Favorite Recipe.

From Alex G., Program Coordinator  |  YIELD: 6-8 servings  |  TIME:  75 minutes


1 12-oz. package wide or medium egg noodles
6 Tablespoons apricot preserves
12-oz. can crushed pineapple (and some of the juice, not a lot)
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup sugar
3 eggs (beaten)
6 Tablespoons melted butter
Optional: ground cinnamon and raisins


Preheat oven 350 degrees.
Cook noodles in boiling water till al dente. Drain.
Put all ingredients except the noodles in a large bowl and mix well. Add the noodles and mix gently until well coated.
Grease a Pyrex dish or baking pan – 9 x 13” works best.
Pour mixture into pan.
If desired, sprinkle top with cinnamon and/or raisins.
Bake approximately 45 minutes until noodles on the top layer get lightly brown.

Note from Alex: “I cover with foil for the first half hour, then remove foil and let bake till noodles are golden….about another 10-15 minutes depending on how hot the oven is.”

Check out all of our Food Bank Favorite Recipes for the holiday season:



Food for Mendocino and Lake County Fire Evacuees

August 1, 2018

When disaster strikes, you can always count on the San Francisco-Marin Food Bank to lend a hand. In the case of the Mendocino/Lake County Complex Fires, it’s not just a hand we’re lending – it’s multiple pallets of emergency food and water for fire evacuees.

Our Food Resources team has been monitoring the situation, and when contacted by our friends at Redwood Empire Food Bank (REFB), we leaped into action – assembling ten pallets of emergency water, easy-open food pouches, and ready-to-eat food. This week, emergency food supplies from our Food Bank warehouse will help REFB restock its rapidly-depleting emergency food inventories.

“We are once again saddened by the news of these fires, but we are glad to be a part of the Food Bank regional network so that we can help out, even from afar,” said Barbara Abbott, Director of Food Sourcing and Allocation at San Francisco-Marin Food Bank. “Our hearts and thoughts are with our Northern California neighbors whose homes and lives have been damaged by the fires.”

Because of the generous support of our donors, our Food Bank collaborates year round with other Food Banks around the region – and across the country – to prepare for and respond to disasters.


  • Get updates and stay connected with news about how San Francisco-Marin Food Bank is supporting the wildfire recovery efforts by following us on Facebook and Twitter.
  • Make an emergency plan with your loved ones so you know what to do when disaster strikes. Visit www.readymarin.org or www.sf72.org for information and useful guides to help you get prepared.

NOTE: At this time, the San Francisco-Marin Food Bank is not accepting donations of food, water, or other supplies for the fire relief effort.