Before the pandemic, Pauline Harris was working as a children’s librarian at the Richmond District Branch of the San Francisco Public Library. Now, she works at the Food Bank as a Disaster Service Worker.
“I miss being at the library, but I recognize that it’s important for me to be here,” said Pauline.
Disaster Service Workers are City and County employees who are not able to perform their typical day-to-day work right now. Pauline is just one of many who have been activated to support COVID-19 response efforts – such as contact tracing, staffing hotels where unhoused individuals are isolating, or helping at the Food Bank.
During her first deployment at the Food Bank in mid-May, Pauline worked alongside volunteers packing fresh fruits, vegetables, grains, and proteins into bags for our temporary Pantry at Home program assembly line.
“I remember I was told that we packed around 2,800 bags that day,” she said, recalling her first day. “It was a killer shift since I wasn’t used to it yet.”
From Packing Bags to Curbside Assistance
That shift didn’t stop Pauline from wanting to do the work for the Food Bank.
Now on her second deployment, she is assisting volunteers who are delivering groceries through Pantry at Home to over 12,000 seniors each week. At the curb on Pennsylvania Ave, outside of the Food Bank, the volunteers pick up the packed grocery bags that are ready for delivery. Here, Pauline greets them and helps pack about 15 grocery bags into their car, and at times hears stories about the people they deliver to.
“Sometimes, I feel like the folks that are bagging the groceries should come down and meet the drivers just to see what it’s like,” said Pauline. “Hearing where these bags go and interacting with the drivers has been a cool experience.”
A Community Sentiment
Pauline enjoys working with the volunteers. “The volunteers [drivers] are amazing people and always seem positive,” she said.
“Seeing this many people that want to help makes me feel great about what I’m doing. It’s amazing how enormous the need is. At first, I knew the need was dire, but not at this level. That’s why, in my opinion, it makes the most sense for me to come and help. We should not be letting anyone fall through the cracks and become needlessly hungry.”