We usually operate at a fast clip to fulfill the great need for food in San Francisco and Marin. When an emergency hits the greater Bay Area, we step into rapid response high gear like we did during the Kincade Fire and PG&E power outages that affected hundreds of thousands of our neighbors.
Our strong relationships with sister food banks such as the Redwood Empire Food Bank allows us to respond quickly when disaster impedes their ability to provide food. As Paul Ash, our executive director, said, “Our loading dock is your loading dock.” Such was the case during the Kincade Fire when they too had to evacuate. During the fire and outages, and afterward, we were asked to store truckloads of water and food for them. When needed, we’ll also deliver it.
As members of the Marin Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD), we were on calls as early as Sunday morning. When the fire was in full force with evacuees heading to Marin for safety, we rapidly responded to deliver food. During the week we have packed fruit, snacks, peanut butter, canned meat, crackers, and 100% fruit juice for over 1,800 people housed at evacuation centers, churches, and other places like Lawson’s Landing campground.
The PG&E power outages also compounded food shortages when people’s food spoiled or they weren’t able to cook it. Several of our pantries were without power, as well. To help, we pre-bagged the food, like care packages, filled with shelf-safe protein and other food. We set up three pop-up pantries at PG&E community resource centers in Marin and got the word out via social media.
Emergency Pop-up Pantries
Jillian Tse, a senior program coordinator, was on the ground in Marin City. “We offered peanut butter, canned meat, crackers, fruit cups, soups, and produce. People were very appreciative. Many people said that they had lost their food due to power cuts. Many took extra groceries for neighbors that couldn’t make it. At the end of the day, we had some food left and share it with close-by community partners.” Over a four day period, we increased our delivery to Marin County by 10,000 lbs.
We don’t stop responding once the fires are out and the power is back on. We’ll continue to support evacuation centers across Marin with deliveries and any calls for help by our sister food banks, as long as it’s needed. We know that some people and families continue to need our support, and we’re in it to help for the long run.