Advocacy Update | No Changes to Public Charge

December 6, 2018

Imagine if you were asked to choose between putting food on your family’s table today or receiving a green card to secure a future in the U.S.  What would you do? 

That the choice facing thousands of our immigrant neighbors – including Food Bank participants because of proposed changes to federal “public charge” rules which could penalize people seeking residency or citizenship for accepting CalFresh (food stamps).

Our Food Bank is working alongside a broad coalition of advocates, community organizations, and elected officials, to coordinate an incredible outpouring of comments and concerns.

Before proposed “public charge” rules are finalized, the government must review and respond to every unique public comment about the proposed regulation. To date, 116,000 comments have been submitted by concerned and engaged people just like you.

What Is “Public Charge”?

The “public charge” test is designed to identify people who rely on the government as their main source of support. It’s used to deny  lawful permanent residence or “green card” status. On October 10, the Department of Homeland Security proposed changes to exclude anyone who is likely to use certain health care, nutrition (including SNAP/CalFresh) or housing programs in the future. The proposed test adds specific standards for income, health, age, family size, assets, and English proficiency, and expands the forms of public assistance that are counted in a “public charge” determination.

Fig. 1 Changes in Public Benefits included in Public Charge Rule[1]

Public Charge Fear Fuels Hunger

An estimated 20,000-44,000 people in the Bay Area may forgo CalFresh (food stamps) benefits because of the proposed changes, according to recent research from the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research. That’s equal to a loss of benefits of between $32 and $74 million right here in our communities.  We know firsthand that this “chilling effect” is preventing immigrants from enrolling in CalFresh and even from attending our weekly food pantries out of fear.

[1] Ponce, Ninez, et al. “How Proposed Changes to the ‘Public Charge’ Rule Will Affect Health, Hunger and the Economy in California.” The UCLA Center for Health Policy Research, 7 Nov. 2018,


Corporate Catch-Up | 5 Questions with Starbucks

October 18, 2018

In addition to sponsoring our Hunger Action Month giving match in September, Starbucks rolled out it’s FoodShare donation program in San Francisco and Marin this year. Every day, they donate thousands of pounds of freshly prepared, unsold food, which the Food Bank gathers, then delivers daily to partners like St. Anthony’s Dining Room and GLIDE Memorial Church. The food is then served to our community’s most vulnerable residents, including homeless neighbors. We recently sat down with Matt Green, Regional Vice President for Starbucks to learn more about what inspires Starbucks and their employees to give back.

5 Questions with Matt Green, Regional Vice President for Starbucks

1) Why does your company support the San Francisco-Marin Food Bank?

At Starbucks, we are committed to donating 100% of unsold food from our stores every day.  Without the support from the San Francisco-Marin Food Bank, we could not make this happen. We are happy to partner in ensuring food goes to those most in need.

2) What are your philanthropic goals?

As a company serving communities globally, we are committed to giving back.  From food donations, to creating jobs and volunteering our time.  Its core to our mission and values as a company: to inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup, and one neighborhood at a time.

3) What are the ways you and your employees give back?

Community service is a cornerstone of our commitment to each community we serve.  Our partners often work in the same communities they live in and making an impact is something that drives many of them. It’s part of the pride that comes with putting on the green apron…doing our part to not only deliver the Starbucks Experience to customers but making a difference in the communities we serve.

4) What advice do you have for your corporate peers when it comes to giving back to the community?

We take a great deal of pride in setting an example and working with other companies and organizations to create even bigger impact…we are always happy to share in the things we are doing and working with others to help.

5) What is something your company is doing that would surprise our readers?

Starbucks is not only innovating how we support our local communities we serve, but also how we support our employees as well! We have launched a program with Arizona State University to support part-time and full-time employees with 100% tuition coverage to earn their bachelor’s degree. To date we have supported 2,000 graduates and 10,000 current students.

Click here to see photos from the Starbucks FoodShare volunteer event in our warehouse.

Nutrition Education | Healthy Lunch & Snack Tips

August 28, 2018

Kids all around the Bay Area are back in school, and if you’re busy stocking up on school supplies, don’t forget to restock your pantry with nutritious foods that can help students perform their best.

Here are tips for quick, easy, affordable, and healthy snacks and lunches from our Nutrition Education team:

  • Choose finger foods: Finger foods are easier for children to snack on during the day. Choose items such as sliced apples with peanut butter, pita chips with a bean dip, and veggies and cheese wrap for a quick and healthy option.
  • Incorporate multiple food groups: Make sure to include two or more food groups in every snack and three or more food groups in every meal. The more variety in your child’s meals, the more nutrients they receive.
  • Use leftovers: Make extra servings when you prepare daily meals, and use leftovers as quick and easy lunch options for the week.
  • Prep the night before: Prep and pack items the night before in order to avoid the rush of getting ready in the morning. Rice cooker oatmeal, a peanut butter, and banana smoothie, or a yogurt parfait are some great options.

Some of our favorite recipes

Hummus and Veggie Pita
  • The chickpeas in hummus are a great source of protein and fiber to keep your child full throughout the school day.
Oven Fried Plantains:
  • To make this recipe even healthier, skip the brown sugar. This snack is a naturally sweet substitute for chips or cookies.
Black Bean and Corn Pitas:
  • This wrap features a rainbow of colors to make sure your children are getting the variety of vitamins and minerals needed throughout the day. The black beans are also a great source of protein for muscle maintenance.
Mini Pizzas:
  • These pizzas are tasty and easy-to-pack lunch options that you can top with your child’s favorite fruits and veggies.
Swiss Chard Pinwheel:
  • This is a healthy hand-held lunch option that can be prepared the day before. Dip into marinara sauce for added flavor and fun!

Click here for more information about our Nutrition Education team.

Food Bank Innovations | Starbucks FoodShare

August 6, 2018

It’s 5 o’clock in the morning when Food Bank driver Manny deftly parks his Sprinter van at the curb in front of a Starbucks store.

In a couple of hours, this store will be teeming with early-morning coffee seekers. But for now, it’s just Manny and his partner, Max, doing their nightly pick up of Starbucks’ unsold food.  

Most nights, Manny and Max rescue about three- to four-thousand pounds of unsold food from 69 Starbucks stores. It’s all part of FoodShare, Starbucks’ growing, nationwide program that donates unsold food to Feeding America® member food banks, which is ultimately distributed to neighbors in need.

Thanks to FoodShare, our Food Bank is able to gather and distribute food from Starbucks’ high quality, nutritious Mercato line, including salads, wraps and sandwiches. On this particular shift, Manny and Max collect close to 3-thousand pounds of food. This year, San Francisco-Marin Food Bank expects to rescue more than 400,000 pounds of food through FoodShare.

Manny and Max have a final stop before they can call it a day – er…night! They transport the Starbucks bounty directly to our nonprofit partners at St. Anthony’s Dining Room, which accepts FoodShare deliveries on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays.

The other 3 days, this food is taken to Glide Memorial Church. For these partners, the benefit is clear: Starbucks’ fresh, rescued food helps nourish some of our community’s most vulnerable residents.

“Look at this!” says Henry, a guest at St. Anthony’s later that day, who’s showing off a wrapped FoodShare fruit-bowl.

“This here is saving me right now,” says the Navy veteran, who dines regularly at St. Anthony’s. “I’ll eat lunch here and take this bowl of fruit home and use it as dinner. “The fact that I can take it home and keep it fresh is very useful.”

St. Anthony’s Food Production Coordinator Ruth Selby says the FoodShare program has been nothing less than a game-changer: “I can’t tell you what a difference this food is making. We serve lunch every day to thousands of guests in our dining room. The Starbucks Mercato items allow folks who face hunger throughout the day to also take something home that is not only filling, but nutritious as well.”

Food Bank Chief Operating Officer Meredith Nguyen applauds Starbucks’ visionary approach: “Rescuing and sharing Starbucks’ fantastic food is only possible because the company has also invested in our operations and infrastructure. They provided funds that enabled us to hire drivers and contributed to the purchase of a new refrigerated van so that we could launch and sustain this effort.”

The quality of the Mercato food is also drawing notice. Tanya lunches regularly at St Anthony’s and says she now looks forward to those special days when she gets a take-home meal with lunch.

“They’re delicious, for sure, but they’re also one of the healthiest things that I eat during most days, because I don’t have the money to pay for something like this.”

Starbucks officials are very pleased with how this program has grown. “Organizations like San Francisco-Marin Food Bank and St. Anthony’s Dining Room make it possible for our surplus food to get into the hands that need it most,” said Laura Olson, director Global Social Impact. “We take great pride in supporting the communities we serve in any way we can. Through FoodShare, our partners are able to give back to those in need and address one of the most serious issues we have today, hunger.”

The FoodShare program was started back in 2016 in San Diego and has spread to other cities, including Chicago, Oklahoma and San Jose.

Nutrition Education | Frequently Asked Questions

August 3, 2018

We at the Food Bank know that providing nutritious food to our neighbors in need is just the beginning — it’s also critical that we empower participants with information and resources for healthy eating. That is why our Nutrition Education team is out in the community daily, helping our pantry participants aim for a lifetime of good health by providing nutrition classes, recipes, and cooking demonstrations. And, we encourage our community to ask questions, which is one of the best ways for everyone to learn – including us!

Here are some of the questions most commonly asked by class participants:

1. Which types of oil are the best to use when cooking?

Answer: When cooking at higher temperatures, we recommend oils that are unsaturated, such as canola oil, avocado oil, and sunflower seed oil. For light sautés and dressings, we recommend olive oils. Keep in mind that each type of oil has a unique smoke point, or point at which the oil overheats. Despite popular belief, olive oil is not always the best option to cook with, since it has a low smoke point and burns more easily.

Unsaturated Fats – i.e. canola oil, corn oil, olive oil, etc. — are healthier than Saturated or Trans Fats because they help increase our levels of good cholesterol and help lower our levels of bad cholesterol. Unsaturated fats are usually plant–based and liquid at room temperature. and are recommended over saturated fats and trans fats which are solid at room temperature (i.e. shortening, butter, lard).

2. What is the difference between sugar and artificial sweeteners?

Answer: Artificial sweeteners are chemical compounds that taste like sugar, but they are not sugar. These may be recommended by health-care providers to individuals with chronic illnesses affected by sugar consumption (i.e. pre-diabetes/diabetes). Unless directed by your doctor, we do not recommend that folks consume artificial sweeteners. Artificial sweeteners are significantly sweeter than sugar and your body can build a tolerance. Research has also shown that consuming artificial sugars can lead to over eating sugar-sweetened foods, because your body thinks it is getting sugar, but it is not, causing continued cravings for sweet foods.

3. Doesn’t fruit have sugar? Does that mean fruit is bad for me?

Answer: Fruit does have sugar, but it’s natural sugar, not added sugar, – so you don’t need to count it within your daily added sugar limits. For the average healthy adult, the daily sugar limit is 6-9 teaspoons of added sugar per day, depending on body mass. Besides being tasty, fruit also provides a variety of important nutrients – such as fiber and vitamins. Compared to processed foods with added sugar, fruits contain fiber which can help slow down the process of sugar getting absorbed into your bloodstream. As a result, you feel satisfied longer and are not left with a “sugar crash” that is often associated with other treats.

Do you have your own burning question to ask our Nutrition Education team? If so, add it to the comments section and we’ll try our best to answer it in a future blog post.  And for more information, we invite you to check out the Nutrition Education page here.