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.”

Linda’s Story | The Food Pharmacy Offered a Healthier Life

November 4, 2019

Having healthy food to share with our community doesn’t mean much if people can’t get to it. That’s the idea behind one of our many recent innovations. We work hard to find the best ways to safely transport nutritious foods to people in convenient locations where they don’t have to go out of their way. One of the ways we do that is through our Food Pharmacies. 


Since 2016, we’ve been working with local physicians and health clinics to run our Food Pharmacies. This program helps connect patients — who already see their doctor at these clinics — with free groceries, nutrition education, and CalFresh enrollment (food stamps), as well as classes on healthy food preparation.  

Alicia Hobbs organizes the program at our Silver Avenue site; she emphasizes that food can be medicine, especially for patients with health challenges, such as diabetes and hypertension. “We’re not just introducing patients to healthy food, we’re teaching them how to cook this food in the healthiest way possible. Perhaps most importantly, we’re trying to create a community where these patients feel supported every step of the way.”  


Linda’s health improved significantly since she linked up with a San Francisco-Marin Food Pharmacy. Fifteen years ago, a car crash changed her life forever when both of her ankles were shattered, and her wrist fractured. The damage to her ankles meant she could no longer walk long distances or even stand on her feet for a few minutes at a timeEven after months of physical therapy, she had to retire early from her job at a local bank. Without income from her job, Linda has to live on only a few hundred dollars in SSI funds every month.  

Linda’s doctor suggested she get involved in the Food Bank’s Food Pharmacy program at SouthEast Health Clinic in the Bayview neighborhood. Ever since, she’s had free access to healthy fruits and vegetables as well as health education. Through the program, she learned new ways to prepare certain foods — such as steaming carrots and broccoli to keep more of vitamins intact.  

As a result of her program participation, Linda has lost weight and dropped her blood pressure, “My health hasn’t been this good in years,” she says, and I owe it to those at SouthEast, and the good people at the Food Bank.” 

Food Bank ‘Mini’ Team Favorites: Tomato Recipes for Your Enjoyment

August 27, 2019

The Food Bank ‘Mini’ team lives to figure out-of-the-box ways of delivering fresh, nutritious food to our neighbors in need.  To help celebrate the wonderful fruit offerings as we head into summer, we asked members of our Nutrition Education team to help us out with a few refreshing tomato recipes. They pulled up a few delicious ideas from our friends at  Enjoy!

Baby Tomato Bites


12 (4-inch) slices of French bread
¼ cup low-fat mozzarella cheese shredded
5 Tomatoes diced
½ teaspoon Black pepper
8 Basil leaves chopped


*Preheat oven to 300°F.
*Place thin layer of mozzarella cheese on each slice of bread.
*Toast French bread slices in oven until cheese melts, about 5-8 minutes.
*Mix diced tomatoes with black pepper.
*Place diced tomatoes on top of cheese and garnish with chopped basil leaves. Serve immediately.

Tomato and Garlic Omlette


½ slice Whole wheat bread
½ teaspoon Olive oil
1 Clove of garlic finely chopped
Non-stick cooking spray
¾ cup Egg substitute
2 tablespoons Part-skim Mozzarella cheese grated
1 Large tomato chopped
1 teaspoon Dried basil


*Preheat oven to 300°F.
*Cut the bread into cubes; toss with oil and garlic in a small bowl. Spread the cubes in a single layer on a baking sheet and toast in the oven for 15 to 25 minutes, or until golden brown, tossing once or twice. Transfer to a plate to cool.
*Spray a medium pan with nonstick cooking spray and heat over medium-high heat. Pour in egg substitute.
*When the egg begins to set, spread evenly across the bottom of the pan and reduce the heat to low.
*Once the top layer of egg is almost cooked, sprinkle the cheese and basil on top and scatter the tomatoes and bread over half of the omelet; fold the unfilled omelet half over the filling. Slide the omelet on a plate and serve.

Nutrition Education | Tips To Create Easy, Healthy Meals

August 27, 2019

The kids are back in school, schedules are getting hectic, and chances are your busy weeknights are quickly becoming one of the biggest barriers to healthy eating.  If you find it’s a challenge to whip up a quick weeknight meal, check out these 5 tips great tips, shared by our fabulous Nutrition Education Team!

  • Cook grains in large batches and store for later use. Whole grains like brown rice, quinoa, or whole wheat pasta, add healthy bulk to our meals and they are a great source of fiber! 
  • Stock your pantry with canned proteins such as canned fish, canned chicken, canned beans, etc. and add them to meals for a good source of protein. Check out this Whole Wheat Pasta with Diced Tomatoes and Salmon for a healthy meal option. 
  • Roast veggies in batches and store for later use. These add a variety of nutrients to meals in addition to fiber from the vegetables’ skin. Remember, the richer the color of a fruit or veggie, the more nutrients we get from them. Try choosing root veggies such as beets, carrots, sweet potatoes, etc. for nutrient-packed options. 
  • Chop fruits and veggies in advance of dinner time and store them in your freezer. This way you will have choices ready to go when it comes to selecting ingredients to mix into those one-pot dishes, such as omelets, soups, or pastas.

Food Bank ‘Mini’ Team Favorites: Summer Squash Recipes for Your Enjoyment

July 26, 2019

The Food Bank ‘Mini’ team lives to figure out-of-the-box ways of delivering fresh, nutritious food to our neighbors in need.  To help celebrate the wonderful offerings we are still distributing this summer, we asked members of our Nutrition Education team to help us out with a few refreshing Summer Squash recipes. They pulled up a few delicious ideas from our friends at  Enjoy!

Slow Cooked Summer Squash

6 medium summer squash – cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices
1 teaspoon salt – divided into two 1/2 teaspoons
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion – chopped
1 medium red bell pepper – seeded and chopped
1 garlic clove – minced
1 cup fresh bread crumbs
⅓ cup Parmesan cheese – freshly grated
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
¼ teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon unsalted butter – cut into small cubes


*In a large colander, combine the zucchini slices with 1/2 tsp of the salt. Let stand until the zucchini gives off its juices, about 30 minutes. Rinse well under cold running water to remove the salt, drain and pat dry with paper towels.
*In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and red bell pepper and cook, stirring often, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring often, for 1 minute. Removed from the heat, add the zucchini, and mix well.
*In a medium bowl, mix the bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, Italian seasoning, the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, and the pepper.
*Place half of the zucchini mixture in a buttered 3.5-qt slow cooker. Sprinkle with half of the crumb mixture. Top with the remaining zucchini mixture, the sprinkle with the remaining crumbs. dot the top of the crumbs with melted butter.
*Cover and slow cook until the zucchini is tender, about 4 to 5 hours on low.

Squash and Corn Pasta Soup


3 cups Low-sodium chicken broth
4 Small zucchini (or any summer squash) diced
½ Small onion chopped
1 Large clove of garlic minced
2 cups Canned corn (16 oz.) drained
10 ounces Whole grain angel hair pasta (thin spaghetti) broken into 2” or 3” pieces
1 cup Tomato sauce (8 oz.)
Olive oil


*Coat bottom on large skillet with a little bit of olive oil. Add broken pasta and mix well to coat. *Toast pasta over medium heat, stirring and turning constantly until golden. Pasta will burn easily.
*In a 2-quart saucepan, heat chicken broth to boiling. Add zucchini, onion, and garlic. Cook, covered, until zucchini is soft.
*Stir in corn and remove from heat.
*Carefully stir toasted spaghetti into saucepan with zucchini; add tomato sauce. Heat to boiling; reduce heat and simmer 8 to 10 minutes until spaghetti is tender.
*To serve, ladle into shallow bowls.

Nutrition Education | Tips for a Tasty and Healthy Summer BBQ

July 1, 2019

The weather is heating up and chances are folks are planning a few summer barbecues.  With that in mind, we asked our Nutrition Education team to provide a few helpful tips and here is what the came up with.  Enjoy!

  • Consider grilling veggies – Burgers and hot dogs are tasty, but they don’t provide us with lots of nutrients. Consider grilling veggie burgers or kabobs instead of, or in addition to, barbecuing main dish staples that often feature processed meat.Choose hearty sides instead of chips to round out your meal! – Regardless of what you serve as a main dish, choose veggie filled side dishes to feel full and satisfied throughout your day. We recommend this sweet summer corn salad or this zesty bean and corn salsa.
  • Quench your thirst – Refresh your thirst by choosing unsweetened sparkling water instead of soda or juice. If you crave something sweet, try mixing seltzer water and juice like in this raspberry-lime fizz or in a fruit-forward smoothie such as this summer breeze treat.
  • Satisfy your sweet tooth – If it feels like no meal is complete without a sweet ‘something’ then skip the brownies and cookies and choose icy fruit pops or grill some tropical fruit. These delicious treats taste wonderful and provide you with vitamins, minerals and fiber as opposed to empty calories.
  • Get moving – Play some lawn games, jump in the pool or put on some music and dance at your next barbecue. Movement helps us digest our food and keeps our body strong and healthy.

Food Bank Innovations | Learning to Cook Pantry Offerings

June 13, 2019


Do you know how to cook maitake mushrooms? Or how to prepare bok choy? And what’s the difference between acorn squash and spaghetti squash? Our Nutrition Education team answers questions like these at nearly every event they attend.  The idea is to set people up for success through thoughtfully prepared menus.


People like Kamurrah, a retired seamstress and artist living on a fixed income in San Francisco.  She relies on our food pantry at Bayanihan House for much of her weekly groceries. She recently attended a Nutrition Education class at the pantry to learn how to cook some of the food she received recently. “I love the Food Bank,” Kamurrah says, “I have never eaten so well in my life. With the pantry, I try all kinds of fruits and veggies that I’ve never seen before. But I try it, and I’m always getting new foods that I like. There are vegetables that I didn’t even know how to eat, but I learned how because of the Food Bank.”  The classes have expanded her horizons and have empowered her with the skills needed to cook and eat fresh foods she would not have known about or chosen otherwise.


The Food Bank’s food sourcing policy is grounded in the USDA’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans: We always include fresh produce, healthy grains, and proteins in every bag or box of food we send into the community. In fact, 60% of the food we distribute is fresh produce. So, it’s essential that we also empower the people we serve by providing information and education to support healthy eating. Our Nutrition Education program does this every day by providing community members with nutrition classes (just like the one at Bayanihan House), recipes, and cooking demonstrations.  We also offer training programs to staff at our nonprofit partners, so they can spread the word about healthy eating and share nutritious recipes for the foods we provide.


Food Bank ‘Mini’ Team Favorites: Watermelon Recipes for Your Enjoyment

June 6, 2019

The Food Bank ‘Mini’ team lives to figure out-of-the-box ways of delivering fresh, nutritious food to our neighbors in need.  To help celebrate the wonderful fruit offerings as we head into summer, we asked members of our Nutrition Education team to help us out with a few refreshing watermelon recipes. They pulled up a few delicious ideas from our friends at  Enjoy!

Watermelon Salsa 



3 cups Watermelon seeded and chopped

½ Medium onion chopped

½ Red bell pepper chopped

1 Jalapeño pepper seeded and chopped

2 tablespoons Fresh cilantro chopped

2 tablespoons Lime juice

1 teaspoon Vegetable oil


*In a medium bowl, mix all ingredients.
*Serve immediately with chips or cover and refrigerate for up to 1 hour to allow flavors to blend.

Watermelon Cooler


*2 cups chopped water melon
*2 cups cold water


*Place all ingredients in a blender container.
*Blend until smooth. Pour into glasses and serve.


Food Bank ‘Mini’ Team Favorites: Strawberry Recipes for Your Enjoyment

May 6, 2019

The Food Bank ‘Mini’ team lives to figure out-of-the-box ways of delivering fresh, nutritious food to our neighbors in need.  To help celebrate the wonderful fruit offerings this spring, we asked members of our Nutrition Education team to help us out with a few refreshing strawberry recipes. They pulled up a few delicious ideas from our friends at  Enjoy!

Strawberry Spring Rolls


½ cup Daikon cut into thin strips
½ cup Gailon cut into thin strips
½ cup Chinese cabbage cut into small strips
½ cup Strawberries cut into small strips
8 rice wrappers
4 tablespoons reduced sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon Sesame oil


*Mix together all vegetable strips
*Place strips on soaked rice wrappers and roll up burrito-fashion.
*Combine soy sauce and oil; use for dipping sauce.

Strawberry Pineapple Lemonade


4 cups 100% pineapple juice
2 cups Fresh or frozen strawberries sliced
¼ cup Fresh lemon juice
½ cup Water


*Put all ingredients (except ice) in a blender container and churn until the mixture is smooth
*Pour into glasses over ice cubes and serve.