Heather’s Story | Young Marin Family Grateful for Pantry Food

November 23, 2017

Life’s not perfect – far from it at times – but you won’t hear Heather complaining about it too much.  She would much rather spend her time counting her blessings, like the time she spends with her two young children and her fiancé.  Unfortunately, sitting down for a family meal is a rarity these days.


Heather wakes up before dawn each morning so that she can get to work stocking candy machines at 5 am. She puts in a two-hour shift, then returns home, so her fiancé can leave for work. He has two jobs as a cook and works six days a week, twelve hours per day.

They hardly see each other, but it’s the only way the family can scrape by to pay the high cost of rent. Heather depends on the Food Bank pantry at the Ritter Center in San Rafael to feed her kids. “This is a life changer, and I think this place is keeping us alive,” she says. “It’s where I get the fresh fruits, vegetables, and eggs that make up most of our food.”

This time of year is particularly hard time for Heather’s family because both the kids’ birthdays are in November and then Christmas is right around the corner. She wants to provide them the happiness of opening gifts. “I get them toys at the Goodwill,” she says. “They are young so they don’t know that they are used.”


No matter the situation, the Food Bank is ready to respond to the needs of participants, especially during the holidays.  We served fresh, nutritious food to over 32,000 households during the months of November and December of last year, and are on pace to top 33,000 households this year.

In spite of her hardships, Heather keeps a positive attitude. “When I look at our finances, it’s so stressful,” she says. “But life is too short, and I’m thankful for what we have. We aren’t going hungry, and I’m grateful to the Food Bank and its supporters for that.”

You can ensure that families like Heather’s have enough to eat everyday by making a cash donation to the Food Bank today.

Advocacy Wins 2017

November 1, 2017

We are happy to report that there is a lot to celebrate from California’s 2017 legislative session.

At the beginning of the year, our Policy and Advocacy Team set our sights on 11 bills and two budget issues that we knew could improve food access for our neighbors in need. Throughout the year we wrote letters to our legislators in Sacramento, encouraged our supporters to call their own legislators, and even testified at hearings in the Capitol. And thanks to our partners at the California Association of Food Banks, the California Food Policy Advocates, and the Western Center on Law and Poverty – among many organizations – we saw several important victories in our collective goal to end hunger.  Here are some of the highlights:

Starting in 2018, we will see more State funding for food banks across the state:

  • $8 million for the CalFood fund in 2017-18, which will provide State funding to food banks to purchase more California-grown fruits and vegetables – a big victory considering the fund only received $2 million last year! Thank you to those of you who signed a postcard for Governor Brown or Assemblymember Ting.
  • Senate Bill 61, authored by Senator Hertzberg, will renew and extend the Emergency Food for Families Voluntary Tax Contribution Fund. This will allow taxpayers to keep contributing to the work of food banks in California through their tax returns.

Children and students in California will have better access to nutrition at school:

  • Senate Bill 138, authored by Senator McGuire, will require school districts to identify children who are already on Medi-Cal so that they can automatically be enrolled in free school meals. The legislation also allows very high poverty schools across California to serve universal free breakfast and lunch to all of their students – not just those who are enrolled in free or reduced-price meals.
  • Senate Bill 250, authored by Senator Hertzberg, will ensure that schools cannot deny lunch nor punish students if their parent or guardian hasn’t paid their lunch bill on time.

CalFresh (food stamps) will become easier to access for families and individuals in need:

  • Several bills will make it easier for eligible people to receive and stay on CalFresh benefits starting next year. This includes SB 278, authored by Senator Wiener, which will protect CalFresh participants from penalties related to over-issuances when they were caused by county errors, and SB 282 also authored by Senator Wiener, which will provide clarity to counties on whether they can encourage people to use their CalFresh benefits at restaurants.
  • Assembly Bill 607, authored by Assemblymember Gloria, will streamline and modernize the Disaster-CalFresh program, making it easier and quicker for people to receive benefits in the case of a natural disaster.

You, as supporters of the San Francisco-Marin Food Bank, empower our Policy & Advocacy team to advance legislation and policies that improve food assistance at the local, state and national level.   For that we say thank you.

Click here to sign up for our Advocacy Alerts, so that you can help us to advocate at critical moments in the legislative session in 2018!

Joe’s Story | Dedication and Spirit

January 5, 2017

From the first meeting, you know Joe has a background in performing comedy. Funny, quick with jokes and full of antics, his energy is upbeat and infectious. He emanates positivity.

So it is a big surprise to hear his story — the tough times he endured before he started to work at the San Francisco-Marin Food Bank, where he manages volunteers as well as food donations at the Novato warehouse.

Two decades ago, Joe was immersed in a successful career in computers, doing tech support and later testing sophisticated accounting software. Then, one day, the industry shifted, and Joe’s position was outsourced overseas. His career of 17 years came to a screeching halt.

Undaunted, Joe set out to find other work, first in his industry and later relying on the ingenuity every actor must have in his arsenal. But restaurants wouldn’t hire someone who didn’t speak Spanish, and service stations no longer employed folks at the pumps. It was 2008. The recession had just hit. Every job opening big or small was swamped with 100 applicants.

Things got rough for Joe and his wife. Every day he scanned Craigslist for jobs. Even with his wife’s salary as a registered nurse, expenses began to pressure them. Plunging from full-time employment to joblessness was a huge blow.

The demoralizing hunt for work crawled on for a year and a half, and the Food Bank became a lifeline. Never had Joe imagined how grateful he would be for the simple gift of walking into a pantry and being greeted with warmth as he filled a bag with groceries. So, before long, he too began volunteering at the Food Bank — to give back while he continued to look for work.

In a stroke of luck, a position in the Novato warehouse opened up. Joe jumped at the chance. At age 57, Joe had to learn a lot of new skills. There he was, a confirmed vegetarian, sorting donations of frozen meat every day! But he felt motivated by the contribution he was making, and thankful to be earning a living again.

Seven years later, Joe has moved up to be Food Bank Community Engagement Coordinator, and clearly loves his work. He makes volunteers howl with laughter as he plays air guitar or clowns around in his hair net. He inspires them with his dedication and spirit.

Story and photographs by Marilyn Englander, Food Bank volunteer and founding head of REAL School Marin

Directions to the Marin Warehouse

October 12, 2016

2550 Kerner Boulevard, San Rafael

From the North:

From US-101 South, take the exit toward Richmond Bridge/Francisco Blvd/I-580. Turn left onto Bellam Blvd, then turn right onto Francisco Boulevard East. Turn left onto Shoreline Pkwy and then turn right at the first cross street onto Kerner Blvd. Our building is on the left, at the intersection of Kerner and Glacier Point.

From the East:

Take I-580 West onto the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge. Use exit 2B for Francisco Blvd toward San Quentin. Continue onto Francisco Blvd E then turn right onto Morphew St. Turn left at the 1st cross street onto Kerner Blvd. Our building is on the right, at the intersection of Kerner and Glacier Point.

From the South:

From US-101 North, keep right for Interstate 580. Exit at Bellam Blvd/Francisco Blvd. Turn left onto Bellam Blvd., then turn right onto Francisco Boulevard East. Turn left onto Shoreline Pkwy and then turn right at the first cross street onto Kerner Blvd. Our building is on the left, at the intersection of Kerner and Glacier Point.

To Deliver Food:

Heading South on Kerner, turn left onto Glacier Point. Go straight and make a sharp left into our parking lot. Food can be dropped off, 8:00 am – 3:00 pm, Monday – Friday via our Agency/Shop Floor door. Our staff will assist you and give you a receipt.

Click here for Google Map directions.

Click here to download our parking map.