A Holiday Like No Other

November 19, 2020

For many, Thanksgiving is synonymous with three important things: family, gratitude, and food. Unfortunately, COVID-19 is forcing many of us to rethink what those things mean this year.

For one family, the global pandemic is a time to establish new Thanksgiving traditions and cook familiar dishes, even if they can’t gather everyone around the same table.

“I kind of have a large family and my mother – she is 85 now – was the cook,” said Irie, a Food Bank participant. “We would go over to her house for dinner. So that won’t be happening this year.”

Irie lives with his wife in San Francisco’s Bayview District. A few years ago, he and his wife were in a motorcycle accident – she broke her spine. After the accident, neither of them were able to work their construction jobs, so they rely on disability and they are regularly coming to the Pop-up Food Pantry at Cornerstone Church. Since Irie was a little kid, Thanksgiving has always involved turkey and dressing, plenty of cakes and pies, cans of cranberry sauce, and greens. This year is no different. He has a special baster that will inject the marinade right into the turkey he is planning to fry. For dessert, he is making a couple of sour cream pound cakes plus, “my mother and my wife want me to make a German chocolate cake, and I want to make some banana pudding blend.”

It’s an ambitious menu for a small Thanksgiving, but Irie inherited his mom’s love of cooking, and whatever they don’t eat they are planning to share.

Keeping Traditions Going

Last year, with more leftover food at the end of their Thanksgiving dinner than they knew what to do with, Irie and his family said, “Let’s just go and just make a bunch of plates and just take it out to the hungry while the food is still warm.”

They ended up giving away 10 plates of food to unhoused folks in their neighborhood.

“It just felt so good. We thought, ‘let’s try to feed 20 people this year’. So that’s what we’re gonna do,” said Irie. Even though they’ll have fewer family members around the Thanksgiving table this year, “we’re going to cook the food up, make 20 plates, and go feed 20 people.”

One of those plates will go to his mom so he’ll at least be able to see her from a distance. By the sound of it, Irie’s mom and anyone else getting a Thanksgiving meal from him this year are in for a treat.

A Food Bank Thanksgiving

Food and community are at the heart of what we do here at the Food Bank, making this is an extra special time of year for us. Despite family gatherings being scaled back or canceled altogether this year, we are still planning to distribute extra food this month to help our community make Thanksgiving as special as possible.

In fact, we will give away enough food for 1.4 million Thanksgiving meals, up from 880,000 last year. That includes more than 232,000 pounds of chicken and 1 million pounds of produce.

Finding Gratitude in 2020

Even if this will be a holiday like no other, we want to ensure our community can still enjoy a celebratory family meal next week, no matter what form it takes.

“I’m just really thankful to have this Food Bank because I’m sure it helps a lot of people, including me,” said Irie. “At the same time, it helps me to help others, and that’s what I really want.”

Food Bank Favorites: Emily’s Thanksgiving Portobello Recipe

October 24, 2018

“Here’s my somewhat famous Thanksgiving *vegetarian* dish – a portobello recipe to please everyone. You will not miss turkey with this!” – Emily

Click here to download the printable version of this Food Bank Favorite Recipe.

Emily C., Food Resources Team | YIELD: 6-8 servings | TIME: 75 minutes

INGREDIENTS

6-8 large Portobello caps, stems removed
2 medium onion – finely diced
1 clove garlic – finely diced
5 stalks celery – finely diced
5 med carrots – finely diced
8-oz. sliced mushrooms (Cremini, Portobello or button)*
2 apples, peeled, cored, and diced
½ cup raisins
½ cup almond slivers
16-oz. package stuffing mix (vegetarian)
2 ½ cups vegetable stock
½ cup white wine (optional)
2 cups Panko crumbs
¼ cup grated parmesan
½ tsp. poultry seasoning spice mix
1 stick unsalted butter
Salt and pepper to taste

*Note from Emily: I usually slice the stems from the big mushrooms and add to the stuffing – no food waste!

PREPARATION


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Wash mushroom caps well and put aside.
Melt ½ stick butter in large frying pan. Add onions, and sauté until clear. Add sliced mushrooms. Sauté until very well browned.
Add celery, carrots, sauté for another 5-10 min. Add apples, raisins, almonds, stuffing mix, veg stock and wine, stir well to mix, then set aside briefly, off heat.
Microwave remaining butter in a small dish until melted, and use a teaspoon of it to grease a large baking dish (about 9 x 13). Put remaining butter aside.
Spread dressing mixture in baking dish. Then, place mushroom caps with stem side down on top of dressing.
Mix panko crumbs, parmesan, poultry seasoning, plus salt and pepper to taste in a large bowl – stir well. Use last of melted butter to brush onto mushroom caps. Drizzle remaining butter over dish.
Sprinkle seasoned mixture of panko and parmesan liberally (thickly) to cover mushroom caps and dressing well.
Bake until browned, about 45 – 50 minutes.

Check out all of our Food Bank Favorite Recipes for the holiday season:

 

 

Food Bank Favorites: Sammy’s Sweet Potato Casserole

October 19, 2018

“This is my sister’s sweet potato recipe. Even when she doubles it for Thanksgiving, there is never enough.” -Kera

Click here to download the printable version of this Food Bank Favorite Recipe.

Kera J., Development Team | YIELD: 6-8 servings | TIME: 90 minutes

INGREDIENTS

4 large sweet potatoes
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 1/2 tbsp. dry sherry
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. nutmeg

PREPARATION


Peel sweet potatoes and cut into 1-inch cubes. Put into a medium saucepan and add enough water to cover the potatoes.
Bring sweet potatoes to a boil, then simmer over medium-low heat until soft, about 20 minutes – you can poke with a fork to test if they are done. Drain and let cool a little.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
With electric mixer, whip all of the ingredients except the nutmeg until light and fluffy.
Pour into a buttered casserole dish and spread out evenly. (Note from Sammy: at this point you can cover the casserole dish and put in fridge overnight if you want to make ahead)
Sprinkle with nutmeg and bake for 45 minutes.
Enjoy!!

Check out all of our Food Bank Favorite Recipes for the holiday season:

 

 

Food Bank Favorites: Gama Joann’s Corn Pudding Recipe

October 17, 2018

“When I asked my mother-in-law to submit one of her many Thanksgiving recipes, she responded with this: ‘I would offer my Corn Pudding recipe as one that is a more atypical dish on today’s Thanksgiving tables, but likely to have been one on the Pilgrims’ table.’ The Pilgrims must have had it good, for this dish is not only delectable in taste, but elegant in appearance. A light golden-brown crust, in a square CorningWare dish, perfectly baked with just the right amount of kernels protruding from the top. Outside of the big bird, itself, Joann’s Corn Pudding is the big attraction every Thanksgiving. Even the pickiest of eaters find themselves craving seconds. Enjoy!” – Mark

Click here to download the printable version of this Food Bank Favorite Recipe.

Mark S., PR Manager | YIELD: 4-6 servings | TIME: 60 minutes

INGREDIENTS

2 cups frozen corn (no need to thaw)
2 eggs
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups scalded milk, cooled
2 tsp. sugar or honey
4 Tbsp. melted butter, divided
1/2 tsp. salt

PREPARATION


Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
In a medium bowl, stir flour, salt, sugar, and 2 Tbsp. butter with corn.
In another bowl, beat eggs; stir in the milk and then add liquid to the corn mixture.
Pour into a greased 9×9” baking dish.
Bake for a total of 45 minutes or until firm.

*Note from Joann: After first 15 minutes of baking, gently stir pudding from the bottom, and then once again 15 minutes later. Before returning to the over after the second stir, pour remaining 2 Tbsp. of butter over pudding top and continue baking for the last 15 minutes or until it starts to brown on the top.

Check out all of our Food Bank Favorite Recipes for the holiday season:

Rosetta’s Story | Thanksgiving with the Family

October 25, 2017

When Rosetta was growing up in San Francisco, she was one of five children. She always looked forward to Sunday dinner because that’s when her daddy cooked. “He was the best cook in the neighborhood,” she said.

At Thanksgiving, Rosetta’s father would cook up a storm, somehow squeezing dozens of family members and friends into their small home for a festive holiday meal.

When Rosetta got older and had three sons of her own, she always felt that providing healthy, nutritious food was critical. Buying enough food was no big deal while she was married and working as a nurse.

However, when she was 40, Rosetta divorced and became disabled. Overnight, her monthly income was slashed in half, and she struggled to feed her sons.

“I worked so hard to keep my boys out of trouble,” said Rosetta. “The best way to do that was football. But they really did eat me out of house and home.”

Rosetta started attending the food pantry at her local church, where she picked up fresh produce and other groceries to nourish her children. Today, the church is one of the Food Bank’s 253 neighborhood pantries.

“Financially, the Food Bank saved me,” said Rosetta. “It allowed me to give my children the nutrition they needed to play sports. It’s those sports that kept them out of trouble.”

Today, Rosetta’s sons are all grown up and working hard to support their own families. At Thanksgiving, they’ll all come together. Rosetta will bring steamed greens she’s harvested from her small garden. Saving the ends of vegetables she receives from the Food Bank, she roots them in water, and then plants them in a tidy plot outside her apartment.

“This Thanksgiving, when I’m feeling gratitude for my family, I’ll also be feeling gratitude for the Food Bank for helping me feed my family healthy food,” said Rosetta. “The people who give to the Food Bank are like guardian angels.”

You can be a guardian angel for Rosetta and other neighbors in need by making a donation today.

Edith’s story | “How brave my mother was”

November 21, 2016

Food Bank staff member Edith collaborates with our pantry partners across San Francisco and Marin. This is her story.

“When I was growing up, my mother would take us to the food pantry. I was so embarrassed that my friends might see us and find out we didn’t have a lot of money.

As I got older and went to college, sometimes I couldn’t afford to eat, and I’d wait for the day I could go to the food pantry. What I realized as an adult was how brave my mother was. But I also came to appreciate the pantry volunteers who were always smiling, making me feel welcome, and creating a sense of community.

I knew that I wanted to give back and be a part of something that helped so many people. So I got a job at my local food Bank, and later came to the San Francisco-Marin Food Bank. In fact, I just celebrated my one-year work anniversary!

As someone who’s been hungry and stood in line at a Food Bank pantry and someone who now works for the Food Bank, I know the incredible impact people like you have on so many lives. The holidays are especially hard for those struggling with hunger. Together, let’s make everyone’s Thanksgiving special.”

Feeling inspired? Make a donation now to help us provide fresh, healthy food for neighbors throughout this holiday season.

Food For All

November 18, 2016

“Food For All” – three small words that highlight the Food Bank’s big mission to end hunger in our community. It’s also the focus of our new ad campaign on transit, billboards, street pole banners around San Francisco and Marin.

We believe that Food For All is a basic human right – that all our neighbors have the right to food, especially in a community filled with so much abundance. Food is more than just nourishment: having enough food to eat alleviates stress, promotes long-lasting health benefits, and creates opportunities for people to focus on goals and dreams. During the holidays, Food For All brings hope and joy. It strengthens our community. It transforms lives.

Please, donate now to help us provide Food For All.

“Thanksgiving is about being together.”

November 18, 2016

Seventy-six-year-old breast cancer survivor Barbara Johnson is one of the 350 participants who visit the Casa de Barro Church Food Bank pantry each week in San Francisco. She ambles in and is greeted by smiles, laughs, and warm welcomes from all the pantry volunteers.

Barbara worked almost her whole life doing clerical work and then as a medical assistant.  Now retired, her income is less than $800 per month. Without the Food Bank, she said she would be going hungry.

“There are so many fresh fruits and vegetables here that I couldn’t afford otherwise,” said Barbara. “And the volunteers are so nice and treat us with respect.”

Barbara especially loves the oranges, peaches, and grapes. One of her favorite vegetable recipes is to use Food Bank corn and canned tomatoes and add some store-bought sausage to make a succotash. Over the holidays, Barbara makes candied yams and baked chicken with the ingredients she gets at the pantry.

“It really helps me stretch my budget at the holidays because there’s more family to feed,” said Barbara who has her brother, daughter, nieces, and nephews over. But she misses her son who died of a heart attack at age 52.

Barbara says one of the best things about the Food Bank pantry is that there’s a sense of community. People check in about each other’s lives, whether someone’s facing an illness like breast cancer, or there’s a death in the family.

“Whether it’s here at the church, or if you see people on the street, the pantry folks are friendly and ask how you are doing,” said Barbara. “It’s not about handouts, it’s about being together.”

Casa de Barro in San Francisco’s Outer Mission neighborhood is one of more than 250 weekly pantries in our region where the Food Bank distributes healthy groceries to neighbors in need.

Thanksgiving at the Pantry Casa De Barro

November 18, 2016

If you visit the Casa de Barro food pantry on a typical Saturday, you can’t help but be amazed by how well it runs. It’s like clockwork: more than 300 families rapidly move through the church, each one receiving 2-3 bags of fresh groceries, all in the course of just a couple hours. A small but mighty army of about 20 volunteers is at the heart of the action – setting up, helping participants, restocking items and ensuring all runs smoothly.

One of the largest pantries in the San Francisco-Marin Food Bank network, Casa de Barro takes on a new rhythm when Thanksgiving rolls around. The pace is a bit slower, the smiles are wider, the hugs last longer. Although participants and volunteers chat and check in with each other every week, the feelings of caring and community reach a giddy peak during the holiday season.

“When Thanksgiving is coming, people make a point to say ‘thanks’ out loud and a lot more often,” said Mayella, who lives nearby with her family and has volunteered at the pantry for eight years. “People make an extra effort to show they care, and we feel more connected. Even though I volunteer every week, at the holidays I think even more about how important and rewarding it is to help each other.”

casa-mid

For many participants, the whole chicken they receive from the Food Bank for Thanksgiving is the centerpiece of their holiday meal. Margarita, who visits Casa de Barro pantry with her young son most Saturdays, said, “Getting food here helps a lot.  It makes our holiday much better.  My family has something wonderful to eat, and we celebrate that.  In addition to the chicken, we prepare our favorite foods like posole and tamales.”

casa-b-thanks-mid

Longtime volunteer Vicky appreciates the acts of kindness that proliferate during the season: “People do many, small things to show their thanks – they will bring notes for the volunteers or small candies to share.  They are so grateful for what they receive and they want to give something, whatever they can, to the volunteers to say ‘thank you.’

“The Saturday before Thanksgiving, there is a lot of excitement,” Vicky added. “People are so happy to get food for their big meal, and they are looking forward to celebrating.  They dress up when they are coming to the pantry and you can see everyone’s face is full of joy.”

 

Thanksgiving Feast Brings Community Together

November 18, 2016

When the calendar turns to November, excitement starts to build among residents at the Derek Silva Community, a supportive-housing facility in the heart of San Francisco. The San Francisco-Marin Food Bank provides food for a weekly pantry at the Community, which is home to 70 people who were formerly homeless or are at risk of becoming homeless. Many of the residents have a triple diagnosis of physical health problems, mental health issues, and substance use.

“Thanksgiving is one of the highlights of the year,” says Kevin Fauteux, director at Derek Silva Community. “Residents really look forward to it and start getting ready with decorations weeks ahead of time. On Thanksgiving, we all gather together to share a communal meal prepared by volunteers from St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church with turkey, cranberries, and all the fixings provided by the Food Bank.

“For some of our residents who are withdrawn and isolate themselves, our holiday celebration is a reason for them to connect and participate,” he adds. “The emphasis is on the festivities, the party, and celebration – it’s not about being sick or needing help.”

One of the residents, David, says he looks forward to the celebration every year. “It’s nice to be able to invite a guest; we get dressed up, and it’s classy,” he says.

In addition to the communal Thanksgiving meal, some residents host their own celebrations with family and friends. Vicky, who invites her father, mother, and brother for the holiday said she loves getting a whole chicken from the Food Bank at Thanksgiving.

“Sometimes I roast it. I like the cranberries too, and I’ll steam the sweet potatoes,” Vicky says. “My family gets together for a nice Thanksgiving lunch, and we talk about what we are grateful for.”

The Food Bank’s weekly pantry helps make Thanksgiving extra special for neighbors at Derek Silva Community and continues to nourish them all year long.

“When someone has food, it makes a huge difference in their health,” says Fauteux. “Good nutrition makes them feel better, and they like knowing they can count on this food every week.”