As a security guard in San Francisco, David’s job is to protect life and property. It’s somewhat ironic that at home, he and his family face another serious threat: hunger.
“My salary is decent,” said the 62-year-old father of three. “But with kids and living in this city, where it’s so expensive, I’m finding more and more that it’s simply not enough.”
High Cost of Living
David’s story is one told all too often in this city. A recent report from the California Budget and Policy Center finds that San Francisco tops the list of most expensive counties in California when trying to support a family. For example, a family of four, with two working parents, needs to earn about $111,000 a year to simply cover the basics of rent, food, healthcare, transportation, child care and taxes. Marin County ranks second at $110,000 a year. Both figures far outweigh what David is taking home in his paycheck.
“My wife is unable to work right now, so it’s up to me to support her and the kids,” he says. Two of those kids are high school boys. The third is David’s 13-year-old 8th grade daughter, Shreena, who attends James Denman Middle School in the city’s Balboa Park neighborhood. It’s here where he and his family find a little bit of relief. For the past several months, they have been accessing the Health Children’s pantry on campus, picking up a bag filled with fresh produce, protein, and staple grains every week.
David is most impressed with all the fresh produce they are able to get at the pantry. “The kids love all the fruit – the apples, pears and oranges. I like the fresh vegetables,” he says excitedly. “The best part is that some of the food lasts for several days. Some of the items, like the chicken, I’m able to freeze when I get home and cook it a couple of days later.
A Better Community
In the end, David figures the Food Bank is saving him and his family a couple hundred dollars a month. With teenagers who are constantly growing out of clothes and shoes, that money seems to disappear quite regularly. Still, it’s a comfort for him knowing that every Thursday afternoon he’ll be able to get a grocery bag filled with healthy food if he needs it.
“Some people say that it’s a waste of time to help the people of this city who can’t afford to feed themselves. I say that’s not right,” David says. “We are all making this community better in our own way, and it’s important to protect that.”