$1.5M in Matching Grants for Donor-Advised Funds

April 16, 2021

Charitable giving not only has positive effects in our community, but it is also a popular tax deduction. Many choose to invest in donor-advised funds (DAFs) as a way to stretch their dollars for greater impact. The Food Bank is engaging with donors about DAF gifts, as well as partnering with #HalfMyDAF, an organization that is committing donors to spend half their DAFs and awarding $1.5 million in matching grants.

A donor-advised fund (DAF) is a charitable giving account through a financial institution designed to invest, grow, and give to charities. People donate into a DAF and recommend how those assets should be invested. Contributions are tax-deductible, and donors can then distribute all or part to a nonprofit whenever they want.

The benefit of a DAF is that money can earn interest, which increases the amount donors can give to charities over time. The drawback is that once a donor gives to a DAF and takes the tax deduction, people often forget – or do not know – how to release the funds. In fact, it is estimated that about $5 billion in charitable donations are locked up in DAF funds that could be released to help fund important work such as the Food Bank’s.

The #HalfMyDAF Challenge in Response to the COVID Crisis

#HalfMyDAF was founded by Jen and David Risher to help facilitate greater giving during the pandemic. Donors sign a pledge to give half their DAFs by September 30 to help sustain nonprofits – many of which, like the Food Bank, are taking on additional work to support those directly impacted by COVID.

“We want to inspire people to give and get their money put to work when that money is needed the most,” said Jen. “COVID has shifted everything, and nonprofits are having to do more with less. Donors may be thinking they might be saving for a rainy day. The pandemic is that rainy day, and now is the moment.”

Spending Down DAFs Now to Double Donors’ Impacts

On May 15, #HalfMyDAF will award $1.5 million in matching grants, including one $100,000 match, one $50,000 match, and many dollar-for-dollar matches of up to $10,000. So, spending down DAFs could potentially double a donor’s impact in the world.

“The silver lining of COVID is that it’s shining a light on the need in our communities,” said Jen. “When you can’t see it, you can’t make change. The pandemic has made it so clear, and the time to act is now to come together and create a real social safety net.”

Make a DAF Grant & The Food Bank Could Receive $100K

The Food Bank is working with donors directly and partnering with #HalfMyDAF to potentially double the amount of food we can provide to the community. “#HalfMyDAF provides donors with the opportunity to express their philanthropic intent and the kind of impacts they want to have on the world,” said Kera Jewett, Director of Leadership Gifts at the Food Bank. “And when donors partner with #HalfMyDAF, they can potentially double their gift to the Food Bank.”

Do you have a donor-advised fund? If you make a DAF grant to the Food Bank and commit to spending down half the money in your DAF by September 30, we’ll be eligible to receive up to $100K in matching funds. Look for details at halfmydaf.com or contact Kera Jewett at kjewett@sfmfoodbank.org.


The Perfect Storm: Increased Need & Higher Food Prices

June 18, 2020

Most of us try to limit our trips to the grocery store – trying to make it in and out as quickly as possible to protect everyone’s health. But when we venture out, it’s hard to miss the shortages and increased prices – it can seem like the bill keeps going up even as we can never get everything on the list.

At the Food Bank, we’re feeling it too, as Barbara Abbott, Vice President of Supply Chain can tell you. “The pandemic has been like a giant wrecking ball through our food supply chain.”

Barbara is something of an air traffic controller here at the Food Bank, overseeing the sourcing and moving of food from the growers and packers to our warehouse before it heads out to the community.

Grocery Prices Spike

“The general public has seen many of the same things we have at the Food Bank – like a spike in the price of eggs – a whopping 16%. There has been a shortage of meat. And the cost for pre-packaged rice, beans, and other pantry staples has gone up, and grocery shelves are often bare as folks stock up.”

According to the latest report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, we’ve had the largest one-month price spike for food in nearly fifty years. Overall, food prices climbed an average of 2.6%, the highest increase since February 1974. Two-point-six percent might not seem like a lot, but when your family is stretching the dollar to put food on the table, every penny is accounted for.

Decreased in Supply & Increased Demand

To make matters worse, the Food Bank has moved away from buying grain and other items in bulk. Since the virus is airborne, we simply can’t have staff and volunteers working side-by-side in small sorting rooms. This means not only are we spending more on pre-packed goods, but we are now competing with grocery stores and everyday consumers for family-sized portions of many staples.

These operational challenges have collided with a huge spike in the need we are seeing in our community – we are now serving 62,000 households each week, up from 32,000 pre-pandemic.

“We’ve had to re-engineer our operations in so many ways,” Barbara said. “But the biggest change is that we’re serving nearly double the number of families with so many of our neighbors out of work.”

To meet the need, we not only need more food, but we must find additional storage space, hire more warehouse staff, procure more trucks, and hire more drivers.

As Barbara explained, “the increased need plus higher food prices is really the perfect storm to create shortages.”

However, thanks to the outpouring of generosity from donors, the Food Bank has been able to rise to the challenge. We are ensuring every family receives fresh produce, healthy grains and beans, and high-quality protein.

“We can’t predict when this pandemic will end,” Barbara reflected. “Right now, we are sprinting–but we know this crisis will be a marathon. We are counting on our supporters to make sure the Food Bank can respond to our community’s needs.”

A Letter From Paul Ash | In Community

June 4, 2020

Ten days ago, we thought that healing from the Coronavirus pandemic was the paramount issue and job at hand – maybe of our time. Today we know that we have even greater and far-reaching healing to do around issues of justice and race that will not wait for a vaccine or a cure and must have our attention now.  These times call for all of us to be focused on the work of challenging injustice and championing humanity.

We believe that having enough food to eat is a basic and foundational building block in the pyramid of justice, and we strive to bring nutritious food to everyone.

Income inequality

And there is another curve that must be flattened and then reversed – the 50-year march upward of the curve that measures income inequality. People of color are over-represented on the low end of the curve and experience the brunt of inequality daily. All of our institutions must be examined to root out ingrained policies and practices that keep people of color from succeeding. And the sharp edges of capitalism must be softened with policies that ensure fairness, access, and opportunity.


Please know that the Food Bank remains committed to getting food to those who need it. As long as it is safe for our staff, volunteers, and participants, our pantries will remain open to all.

Thank you for joining with us to fight to end hunger, and with it the fight for greater equity and justice in our communities.

With Gratitude,
Paul Ash
Executive Director

Partner Spotlight: Q&A with Casey Federico

May 13, 2020

When schools closed in March, parents and caregivers were immediately left figuring out how to balance work, childcare, and homeschooling their children. For the families who relied on the Food Bank every week, there was an added layer of stress – where would they get their groceries? Prior to shelter-in-place, many families could pick up the fresh groceries at their school pantry during drop-off or pick-up. Across San Francisco and Marin, school closures caused 46 of the Food Bank’s Healthy Children food pantries to stop their weekly distributions 

One such pantry was at Dolores Huerta Elementary School in San Francisco’s Mission District. When the school closed teachers and staff quickly worked to identify and contact families to let them know where they could access foodEven with new available pop-up pantries opening nearby, with vulnerable relatives at home, some families could not attend nearby Pop-up pantries. The school’s Family Liaison, Nataly Terrazas; Elementary Advisor, Luis García; School Social Worker, Sarah Volk, and school parent and pantry coordinator, Casey Federico quickly sprang into action matching families who couldn’t leave their house with volunteers who could pick up and deliver food to them. They now have 30 volunteers who trade off delivering to 13 families.  

Last week we caught up with Casey to learn more about what is happening in their community

(This conversation was edited for length and clarity.) 

Food Bank: How did you start partnering with us and what have you been doing since the start of the pandemic?   

Casey FedericoAt Dolores Huerta, which is both of my daughters’ elementary school, there was an established food pantry every Monday morning. Another parent had coordinated it before me, but their son graduated, so I took on the job of being the pantry coordinator this fall. Even before shelter-in-place, we were seeing a huge expansion in need for the pantry. We grew from a 50person pantry last year to a 70- or 80-person pantry in November.  

When the shelter-in-place happened, I was in communication with Edith, our neighborhood representative from the Food Bank, and knew everything was shifting. At the same time, I was getting all these texts and messages from families at the school saying, ‘we are about to be out of food’ There were lots of different challenging situations. And so, from discussions with the school team – Sarah, Luis, and Nataly – we found out who couldn’t leave their home for whatever reason and identified 12 families who needed food delivered. We started with a group of volunteers –families who did have transportation and could go to a food pantry and pick up a box and then deliver it to those people’s homes.  

Our School Social Worker, Sarah Volk, is such an inspiration. She was just so careful and thoughtful about confidentiality. Sarah asked families who they’d be okay being paired with, because to have someone know you are receiving food from the Food Bank and then know where you live, that is a big deal. She was just super thoughtful about that and got everybody’s permission all along the line. 

FB: What are you hearing from people in the community now? 

CF: I’m still hearing a lot of people saying, you know, we got this [food], but it isn’t really enough. That is the hard reality. So many families that are part of our community are hospitality workers, etc.  

Another amazing thing that happened is one of our teachers, her fiancé owns a restaurant and every time somebody from the community buys a meal in his restaurant, Toma, he’s donating a meal to a family in need. He’s also delivering meals. So, families are getting additional support from that too.  

But what I just heard from Sarah last week, is just the numbers are increasing so much. So, we are talking about how to meet new needs. It’s really challenging. 

FB: Do you talk to the families you deliver to? How are they doing?  

CF: One thing that’s been really good, is a lot of relationships have been built between the families who are delivering and the families who are receiving. I know everybody’s been sending texts like, I’m going to drop it off. They text, I got it, thank you.  

There’s also been some specific communication around needing health items like toothpaste and soap and tampons, and that kind of stuff. A few volunteers who have the capacity have also been sharing those types of items with families. Many of the families who are delivering are also out of work or running low on food themselves.  

FB: We see this too, it’s incredible how many of our volunteers say, ‘oh yeah, I’m out of work right now and so I have free time and I’m going to do this.’ 

CF: I know, it just takes my breath away. One of the women who is helping deliver said ‘oh yeah, we both lost our jobs last week, but this is just so important, it’s the one trip I have purpose around. I have to do this.’  

FB: Is there anything else that you wanted to share about the experience? 

CF: I think the one thing that the Food Bank really does is bring together a community of people. Almost everybody who volunteered at the weekly food pantry at Dolores Huerta is also receiving a box of food. And so, I think our, our community of folks who really view themselves as part of the system were ready to jump in. The group of parents who help us to set up, fold up boxes, and do all that kind of stuff are really jumping up again to help out, which is cool. 

That sort of friendly, joyful mood that was at our Monday morning pantry translates over and made people feel comfortable to be both asking and giving. I’m so proud to be part of this community! 


Elisabeth’s Story | Delivering Food to Homebound Seniors

April 30, 2020

Food Bank delivers food to 11K seniors 

Elisabeth Fall is a freelance photographer who regularly shoots for the Food Bank. Since the pandemic, she’s lost most of her business. But that hasn’t deterred her from helping others. 

Twice a week, she loads up her car with 15 bags of groceries and delivers them to seniors as part of our brand-new Pantry at Home program. It’s a temporary service making sure that the Food Bank’s participants who are over 65 years old get food during this crisis. 

“It’s sobering to think how long this crisis will go on,” said Elisabeth. “But I’m spending my new free time doing something I’ve wanted to do for years: volunteer for the Food Bank.” 

“One thing that I love about delivering groceries is that I feel like I have a purpose, and it deflects energy away from my own underemployment to think about the people around me. It’s such a gift.” 

A fleet of volunteers and partners 

With the help of volunteers and partners – including, OnFleet, Amazon, Cruise, Uber Eats, and DoorDash – we’ve been able to completely shift our distribution model almost overnight. Now our most vulnerable participants can still receive groceries while they are protecting their health by sheltering in place.  

Each and every day a tireless group of volunteers and county disaster service workers pack 1,200-1,500 bags of groceries under a giant tent in our warehouse parking lot. The tent has become an extension of our warehouse – giving volunteers the space they need to social distance, while still packing up fruits and vegetables, protein, grain and other nonperishables.  

As the bags are being packed, drives from our fleet of volunteers and partners arrive continuously throughout the day. They back up to our curb on Pennsylvania Ave., check in with a curbside volunteer or staffer and start loading up their cars with 15-20 bags or boxes packed and ready for delivery throughout San Francisco. 


A thank you smile  

When Elisabeth makes her rounds throughout the city, she is often joined by her daughter. Together, they knock on doors, put the groceries down, and stand back six feet. 

“We are always met with smiles when folks open their doors, and they are always so appreciative – which is a bonus. It’s nice to have contact with people, even for a minute from six feet away with masks on,” said Elisabeth. 

“When the chips are down – and these are tough times for so many – volunteering is eight hours of my week helping people connect to food, and food is love. So, it’s a good feeling.” 

We all hope that the crisis will pass soon, and that active seniors can go back to visiting their regular neighborhood pantries. But until then, the Food Bank’s temporary Pantry at Home program will be here for our seniors 

If you are interested in volunteering, sign up here. 

Thank You to Our Volunteers and Partners

April 9, 2020

We are all coping and adapting to the new realities of the global COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on our livesWe are learning to balance uncertainty and social isolation along with the increasingly challenging practical realities of everyday life 

At the Food Bank, we have always known that it takes a strong fabric of community to address hunger in the Bay Area. And as ripple effects of COVID-19 are felt, we have been especially inspired by all the ways – great and small – that our community is coming together to support each other. 

Volunteers Stepping Up

Week in and week out we see countless individual volunteers and partners come out to haul and pack 30-pound bags of potatoes, oranges, onions, and other groceries. Manylike Nate Fahey, who came to Bessie Carmichael Elementary School with his church last week, just want to help the community during these difficult times. “Right now, there is a little extra emphasis on giving back when we can,” said Fahey.  

“An hour or two of your life could really help anyone in need right now,” he went on to say. “It doesn’t take much for us to help others.”  

Not just individuals are stepping up. We’ve received an outpouring of support from partners and community groups – even county workers from the library system – to fill the gaps. They are driving trucks, packing boxes, and delivering groceries to the homebound. Many of these groups, like United Playaz and West Bay, are stepping up without being asked 

Working Together in Solidarity 

After hearing about a need to reach more homebound seniors in their community, United Playaz decided to work with the food bank to deliver food. “We provide the muscle, the leg power, and the energy. And we go out and do it,” said Randy Corpuz Jr., Executive director of United Playaz

These volunteers pick up groceries, pack up their cars, walk stairs and knock on doors to make contactless deliveries every week. 

It’s hard work. And still, they do it. 

“During this crisis, these are the times that you have to stand for something that is greater than you,” said Corpuz. “What a greater way than to work with the food bank who provides those services.” 

The Food Bank extends a big, heartfelt thank you to all the partners and volunteers who are standing arm in arm with us on the front lines of this pandemic. We couldn’t do it without you! 

Partner Spotlight 

In honor of the volunteer appreciation month, we will be celebrating and spotlighting our amazing community partners and volunteers throughout the month of April. Each week, we will publish one Partner Spotlight, and we will be sharing more from our wonderful volunteers and partners on social media throughout the month. Check back soon! 

In the meantime, if you want to help please sign up to volunteer here

Apples in the Pantry, Apples in the Kitchen

October 28, 2019

Right now at our pantries you will get apples as part of the weekly distribution! Red and green – all the colors. They are packed with vitamin C to boost our immune system, and a lot of fiber to keep us feeling full. Eating enough fiber has been shown to keep our hearts healthy too.

So with all this loveliness going out from our pantries, we asked our Nutrition Education team to help us with a couple of apple-based recipes that are easy and fast.

Apple Slaw

Dairy-free | Gluten-free | Low added Sugar | Vegetarian

Serves 4

You’ll need:

  • 2 1/2 apples
  • 1 lemon
  • 2 cups Green cabbage
  • 1 Celery stalk
  • 1/2 cup Red bell pepper
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons Sugar
  • 1/4 cup Low-fat mayonnaise


Do like this:

  • Peel and core apples
  • Dice apples and place in a large bowl
  • Squeeze lemon juice over apples to help keep them from darkening
  • Thinly slice cabbage to form thin strips
  • Dice celery and bell pepper
  • Add cabbage, celery, and bell peppers to apples
  • In a small container, mix mayonnaise ad sugar, add to salad
  • Mix
  • Enjoy!


Microwave Fruit Crisp

Photo attribution: My Tu

Dairy-free | Gluten-free | Low added Sugar | Vegan | Vegetarian

Serves 2

You’ll need:

  • 2 cups Diced and sliced fruit
  • 2 tablespoons Soft butter or vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons Brown sugar
  • 4 tablespoons Rolled Oates
  • 2 tablespoons Whole-wheat flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon Ground cinnamon
  • 3 tablespoons Walnuts, pecans, or almonds


Do like this:

  • Place fruit in a microwave­ safe dish. Use a dish that is wide enough so that the fruit is about 1 inch deep in the bottom
  • In a separate bowl, mix together butter/oil, oats, brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, and nuts
  • Sprinkle the mixture over the fruit
  • Microwave on high 1-5 minutes or until fruit is as tender as you like it. Don’t have a microwave? You can also cook this dish in a regular oven: Bake at 375° F for 45 minutes or until the top is golden brown
  • Enjoy!


You’ll find more recipes and healthy food inspiration on our partner EatFresh’s website



A Letter From Paul | Public Charge Rule

August 13, 2019

News this week that the Trump Administration had decided to finalize the Public Charge Rule has hit our community hard.  This decision essentially forces immigrant families to choose between getting the food they need through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP or CalFresh in California) or jeopardizing their chance to remain legally in the U.S.  Many of these people will choose to suffer without food. It’s objectionable that we as a country offer benefits like SNAP only to have our own government discourage hard working, well-meaning people from using them.

This is how the cycle of hunger begins.  A family that is just getting by becomes a family where parents skip meals, so their children have something to eat.  Where children get their best meal of the day at school or at an after-school program (but not today because school isn’t in session for everybody).  When children and parents go undernourished many things happen, but none of them good.  We only need common sense to know that children who come to school hungry cannot learn.  We don’t need more studies to confirm that children and adults who eat “cheap” food (high in carbs, sugar and preservatives) are on their way to diet-related illness like diabetes and hypertension.

What drives our leaders to do this?  Of all the things our country can easily give the world, it’s food.  We are the world’s powerhouse in producing food and to promulgate rules that – with a backhanded stroke – remove meals from a child’s plate is beneath us as a nation.

We know that the first excuse to justify such action will be that people can use “Food Banks” or get help from another charity. The reality is that the benefits from SNAP are so ‘supplemental’ that families who are on the program are likely already attending food banks to get food for the many meals the SNAP program doesn’t cover.  Those who don’t rely on a Food Bank like ours might soon line up to feed themselves and family members.  The system will overload, bend and then break.  Plainly stated, there is no easy substitution for the reliable source of food that the SNAP program provides.

What has transpired in Washington under this administration the past two years is not only unusual, it’s destructive to our communities.  It’s yet another example of a coordinated attempt to erode our entire social safety net, and a plan that I believe will only succeed in creating a poorer and hungrier nation by denying people the assistance they need to lead healthy, productive lives.

Let’s be clear.  Hunger doesn’t care if you’re a Republican or a Democrat.  Food insecurity doesn’t seek out red states or blue states.  But I do remember a time when both sides of the aisle took this issue very seriously.

As an anti-hunger leader in communities across San Francisco and Marin, we cannot afford to abdicate our responsibility to speak up in opposition to policies that cause direct and catastrophic impacts to our neighbors.  You can join our efforts by asking your Member of Congress to support HR 3222 – No Federal Funds for Public Charge Act.  We become stronger, more compassionate, and more productive communities when our neighbors are able to access the services they need to thrive without fear.

Food Bank Innovations | VolunTOURism

February 19, 2019

Terry Hardie is a retiree, living with his wife in Boulder Colorado, so it was a little strange spotting him so far from home, bagging rice in our San Francisco warehouse.  Even more strange, perhaps, is that his involvement at the Food Bank was courtesy of a well-known cruise ship line.

For the past 2 years, Crystal Cruises has been developing a program that encourages passengers, like Terry, to not only enjoy each port-of-call in leisure, but to also do something special to give back to the local communities in some way.

Marco Estrada, Shore Excursion Manager with Crystal explains, “We call it ‘You Care, We Care.’ Our off-shore itinerary now includes options to visit specially-selected nonprofits, where passengers can volunteer.  So far, it’s been very well-received, with hundreds of visits logged in places like San Francisco, Columbia, and Thailand.”

Terry says he regularly volunteers at home, so doing so while he vacations is very natural.  “I’m one of those people who can’t sit still for very long. I like to be active and productive in my daily life, so when I learned about this opportunity while vacationing with my wife, I decided to make a go of it and come out here today to help feed less fortunate people living in San Francisco.”

Over the past two years, the Food Bank has seen several groups from Crystal Cruises stop by the warehouse and give a few hours of their time.

“When you’re pushing out millions of pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables every year, every set of hands counts,” says Food Bank Community Engagement Manager Cody Jang. “We applaud Crystal Cruises for partnering with us.  We certainly get something out of the deal, but we also hope passengers come away with a better understanding that hunger exists everywhere – including a beautiful tourist destination like San Francisco.”

Estrada says as far as they know, Crystal is one of the only cruise ship lines that has ventured in this direction, but he thinks ‘volun-tour-ism’ will only grow as more people with the means to travel continue to recognize the power of altruism.

Click here for more information on the “We Care You Care” program.

Camp Fire Relief | Bay Area Food Assistance Continues

January 28, 2019

“I got up that morning at 8:30 and looked outside and it was pitch black,” said Jean Bauman, a retiree who lived in Paradise, California. “I went back into the bedroom and I said to my husband Jim, ‘You’ve got to get out of bed.'”

At first, Jim and Jean were hoping the Camp Fire would be contained before reaching their small home. What they didn’t know was that the raging inferno was devouring an entire football field of land every second.


An hour later, fiery chunks of debris were pelting the couple’s home. When it was all over, they were left with nothing but their brick chimney and charred sludge and debris. “We lost fifty years of everything in that house,” Jean said. “It’s numbing.” The couple is now navigating insurance to begin rebuilding their house and their lives.

Help has arrived in the form of weekly food distributions, bolstered by weekly deliveries from Bay Area food banks that have been providing tons (literally) of fresh groceries every week.

“We had a suspicion that once things settled down in Paradise, that the community was going to need some food assistance,” said Barbara Abbott, Food Resources Director at the Food Bank.  “The call eventually came in December, and we have been sending full truckloads of fresh produce, protein, beverages and snacks ever since.”


The food assistance is starting to make a difference, helping people like Martin and Ashley feed themselves, as well as their two young children, Lilliana and Rylee.

Martin moved his family from Kansas to Paradise to help with his ailing mother after she recently suffered a stroke. And while the family didn’t lose any property in the fire, they did lose stability. Martin was due to start a logging job the day the Camp Fire started. Logging jobs have since dried up and now the family finds itself visiting the food distribution site in nearby Chico to help provide nourishment until things get better.

“The food got us through,” Ashley said. “It’s been filling in the gaps.”

While Martin hasn’t found a job yet, he’s still searching every day and he’s confident he’ll find something soon.   “It’s a lot easier to go to sleep and focus on finding a job when you know your kids aren’t hungry,” he said. “We’re thankful for having full bellies.”