We Rise to the Occasion

October 27, 2017

We at the San Francisco-Marin Food Bank pride ourselves on helping out whenever and wherever we’re needed. When called, we rise to the occasion. Little did we know that our mettle would be tested by multiple disasters in a matter of weeks.

In the aftermath of the devastation left behind by Hurricane Harvey, we dispatched food, resources and employees to assist the Houston Food Bank.  Then, about a month later, when massive wildfires broke out in Sonoma and Napa counties, we heeded the call for help by sending fork lift drivers and warehouse experts to help our sister food bank manage a huge influx of food donations.

And because disasters don’t end when flood waters recede or flames are extinguished, a second wave of employees – most volunteering their own time — have travelled to help food banks and residents in affected areas to recover.

Rebuilding in Houston

Program Manager Berkeley Adams recently wrapped up a two-week stint in Houston where she put her knowledge of establishing new pantry partnerships to work.

“Houston’s network of food distribution locations suffered a huge blow from ‘Harvey’, mostly from all the flooding that occurred,” she said.  “I was brought in to assist their team in building new community partnerships and build new pantries in  neighborhoods that were most affected by the storm. We spent a lot of time identifying the best locations for outreach. After that, it was going door to door and cold calling to local churches and nonprofit agencies people.”

Giving a lift to Santa Rosa

Rich Faafiu is one of several operations staff members who have been pulling long shifts driving a forklift at the Redwood Empire Food Bank since the Tubbs Fire leveled entire neighborhoods in Santa Rosa. He says the biggest challenge is maneuvering all the donated food that continues to pour in from a generous public.

“I met a woman who relocated to Ohio after living in Santa Rosa for many years,” Rich said.  “As soon as she heard about the fires, she jumped into her pickup truck, drove all the way here, picked up a pallet full of water from Costco and delivered it to the Redwood Empire Food Bank warehouse.  That kind of response gives me chills, and energizes me to keep working long hours to help the great people of Sonoma and Napa counties.”

Helping victims access CalFresh (food stamps)

In late October, several members of our CalFresh (food stamps) outreach team were dispatched to Sonoma and Napa counties to help fire victims enroll in the Disaster-CalFresh program, which provides a month’s worth of food stamps benefits to low-income families and individuals who were impacted by the fire. The team visited evacuation shelters, churches, and community centers, hoping to enroll as many victims as possible.

Program Manager Francesca Costa said, “These wildfires have been devastating for so many in the North Bay, but the community’s grace and resilience is beyond inspiring.  We hope that connecting folks affected by the disaster to D-CalFresh will mean they have one less thing to worry about during this difficult time.”

“Helping is what we do best, and we will continue to answer the call when disasters strike,” said Food Bank Executive Director Paul Ash. “We’re all one big family and survive by having each other’s backs. After all, one day we will be on the receiving end of one of these life-changing catastrophes, and will be the ones needing help.”

For more on our disaster response, check out our earlier blog posts on the North Bay Fires and Hurricane Harvey.



Food Bank Response | North Bay Fires

October 11, 2017

Updated Sunday, October 15

As massive wildfires continue to decimate the North Bay, causing thousands of people to flee their homes, Bay Area Food Banks are responding. We have been working together all week to provide emergency food assistance to displaced neighbors. Our hearts and thoughts are with our North Bay neighbors who are seeking support.

Need food? Marin food pantries welcome fire evacuees: If you or someone you know in Marin has been impacted by the wildfires (and is not already receiving meals from an evacuation center), food is available from the Food Bank’s pantry network. Click here to use our Food Locator tool to find weekly food pantries that are open in Marin. To help individuals and families recover, the San Francisco-Marin Food Bank is making emergency food assistance available to evacuation centers and encouraging new participants to enroll at our weekly pantries.

Want to help? Monetary donations are the most effective way to assist right now.  

> Donate here to support Redwood Empire Food Bank,which is in the middle of the disaster zone, serving Napa, Sonoma, and Mendocino Counties. 

NOTE: At this time, the San Francisco-Marin Food Bank is not accepting donations of food, water, or other supplies. Get updates and stay connected with news about how San Francisco-Marin Food Bank is supporting the wildfire recovery efforts by following us on Facebook and Twitter.

How San Francisco-Marin Food Bank is supporting relief efforts

In times of emergency, Food Banks play a key role as “second responders,” providing food and water in the immediate aftermath of disaster, as well as longer-term food assistance as neighbors rebuild their lives.

At the San Francisco-Marin Food Bank, our Food Resources and Operations teams sprang into action early last week, assembling 12 pallets of shelf-stable snack items, drinks, and peanut butter. These ready-to-eat foods are being delivered to shelters that are housing people displaced by the fires.

On Tuesday, we moved those pallets of food to our Marin warehouse, which is much closer to the fire lines, and much closer to the people who need it. Within hours of arriving in Marin, two pallets were delivered to an evacuee shelter in San Geronimo Valley in West Marin County, helping 30 people who were forced from their homes the day before. Other shelters are opening daily, and our emergency-relief food is close by, ready to be shipped out as soon as it’s needed.

This weekend (October 14-15), we are providing food for breakfast for 400 evacuees at the Marin Civic Center evacuation shelter. The 11 pallets of food delivered today include cereal, peanut butter, jelly, beverages, apples, and pears.

Our team has also delivered a truckload of food and water to the Redwood Empire Food Bank (REFB), which is in the middle of the disaster zone, serving Napa, Sonoma, and Mendocino Counties. We have also sent four of our skilled forklift operators to help out at the REFB warehouse this weekend. Four members of our warehouse team – Rich, Steve, Leonardo and Carl – will travel to Sonoma County to provide assistance.

In the news, San Francisco-Marin Food Bank was featured on KTSF-Channel 36 TV (Chinese language). Click here to view the 3-minute segment; we are mentioned at the 1:43 mark.