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.”