Since its beginning, the San Francisco-Marin Food Bank has partnered with hundreds of grassroots organizations, from Chinatown to Bayview and San Geronimo Valley to the Marin Canal Area. We pool our expertise and resources to provide dependable food and give people options that make sense for them and their families.
One of our oldest partnerships is with Glide Memorial Church in San Francisco’s Tenderloin. Since the 1960’s, Glide has welcomed and served a diverse community of poor and marginalized people in the Tenderloin. Through the years it has helped thousands of people find support, stability, and new beginnings through a variety of innovative programs.
The nourishing food provided by the Food Bank each year helps Glide prepare over 2,200 meals daily for people living in SROs without cooking facilities, staying in shelters, or living on the streets.
Food as a Gateway to New Beginnings
“People come to Glide where they receive breakfast, lunch and dinner, with much of the food coming from the Food Bank,” Glide’s Director of Free Daily Meals, George, tells us. “Food is central to what we do here at Glide, so our partnership with the Food Bank is really at the heart of our work. The meals program is a gateway for folks to access our other services. They come for the meals, and while they’re here they learn about the other services we offer. That way they’re able to get help with other needs like hygiene kits, clothing, help in recovering from domestic violence or addiction, childcare, legal assistance, and health services. For most, it all starts with a healthy meal in our dining rooms.”
Since the start of the pandemic, Glide made a pivot and moved the meals program outside as it was no longer safe to congregate together in the basement dining rooms. Tables and chairs were set up in the open air in good weather, and tents in bad.
What began as a necessary and temporary solution turned out to have a positive outcome. In addition to keeping folks as safe as possible, moving the program outside made the atmosphere less cramped, more relaxed and less rushed, with more time for staff to interact with diners. Glide staff hope to apply that lesson as the program moves back inside, and shift operations to street level within the building, with more space and light and air.
A Healthy Meal and a Bag of Groceries
Another COVID innovation is the Monday Pop-Up pantry on Ellis Street. Every Monday, the Food Bank and Glide work in close collaboration to thoroughly clean Ellis Street and set up a pantry where people can safely come and choose healthy food for themselves and their families. Since many in the neighborhood don’t have cooking facilities, the Food Bank provides foods that require little or no cooking.
As George says, “Some of our clients come here for breakfast, but then stay for the pantry. So they leave with a full breakfast and a nice bag of groceries.”
The symbiotic partnership between the Food Bank and Glide is emblematic of the kind of equitable, accessible, community-driven services we know work best in San Francisco and Marin. “So many in the community take advantage of both the meals and the groceries. The product varies so there’s always something new and people love that. There’s so much need. We’re always asking for something and the Food Bank is always stepping up. So, thank you.”