Making Thanksgiving Possible | A Community Comes Together

November 14, 2017

Thanksgiving is our busiest time of year at the San Francisco-Marin Food Bank, and it takes thousands of people to pull it off. From dedicated volunteers to pantry coordinators to community partners to generous supporters like you, distributing a special holiday menu for thousands of Food Bank participants is truly a team effort.

Your support helps the Food Bank serve our 253 neighborhood pantries and 200 community partners across San Francisco and Marin. Every organization that distributes food supplied by the Food Bank makes a big difference in the lives they touch— whether they provide fresh groceries so our neighbors in need can prepare traditional Thanksgiving meals to enjoy with their loved ones at home, or prepare holiday feasts for participants with turkey and all the fixings.

PROVIDING FOOD FOR THE HOMELESS

In November, the Food Bank will provide local agencies like GLIDE Memorial Church and St. Anthony’s with ingredients to cook large-scale meals for our neighbors. On Thanksgiving, your support helps us send GLIDE 40,000 pounds of food to feed 5,000 of our hungry neighbors—many of whom are homeless or without family.

More than 500 volunteers lend a hand, and every guest receives a helping of turkey and ham, as well as the traditional sides of stuffing, mashed potatoes, and green beans.

“I’m in the shelter and without this, I probably wouldn’t be eating this Thanksgiving,” said a guest named Kittridge. “Here, you are treated like a guest, and it’s beautiful.”

HELPING FAMILIES CELEBRATE

The Food Bank will provide over 30,000 families who visit neighborhood food pantries with Thanksgiving ingredients to make a special meal at home with their loved ones. One of our participants, Martin who attends the Treasure Island Homeless Development Initiative, a supportive-housing center.

Martin’s family is part of a close-knit community of about 75 people who attend the weekly pantry. There, people not only pick up food, but they catch up and check in with their neighbors. “The Food Bank gives us a whole chicken,” says Martin. “It’s perfect because our oven is too small for a big turkey. We are so thankful.”

“Many of our pantry participants have disabilities,” says Sherryl Hairston, pantry coordinator. “They tell us all the time how much they appreciate this food. And, we can see it in their faces.”

YOUR SUPPORT MAKES IT POSSIBLE

With increased need over the holidays, there’s never a better time to support the Food Bank. Click here to make a contribution that will help provide warm meals to our neighbors in need.

 

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.”

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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.”

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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.”