Full Circle | A Volunteer’s Perspective

November 16, 2017

Barbara Elliott caught herself chuckling the other day as she was breaking down food boxes inside St. Dominic’s Catholic Church in San Francisco’s Lower Pac Heights. It was Monday morning and the longtime parishioner was volunteering her time at the food pantry in the downstairs community room.

“I’m laughing because I recently volunteered at the Food Bank’s warehouse, and my job there was to build the food boxes… here I am now, tearing them down!”

Indeed, the 74-year-old Elliott has come full circle. She has seen how the food comes into our warehouse and how it’s packed for distribution and is also intimately aware of where it goes — into the hands of our neighbors in need.


Elliott is one of 40,000 volunteers who gave their time this year to help the Food Bank in its mission to end hunger in San Francisco and Marin. That’s the equivalent of 70 full-time employees, and every last person is needed to distribute just over 48 million pounds this year. “There is absolutely no way we could move that much food and feed that many people if we didn’t have volunteers like Barbara, willing to give up a few hours of their time each week, to pack food, hand out food, and do it with a smile,” says Food Bank Community Engagement Manager, Cody Jang.

A volunteer shift is fast-paced and exciting. Many of our warehouse shifts involve boxing up thousands of pounds of fruits or vegetables. Sometimes our volunteers are tasked with repacking rice into family-friendly one-pound bags. Every volunteer leaves knowing just how much they packed or sorted, and how much of an impact it will make on the community later that week.

You can count Elliott as a believer.  “I really enjoyed my volunteer shift in the warehouse, but find it much more rewarding to see the smile on people’s faces when they receive these fresh groceries every week at my pantry.”

If you’d like to donate your time at one of the two Food Bank warehouses, please sign up here.