San Francisco-Marin Food Bank’s COVID-19 Response Programs at Risk
Decreased Volunteers Coupled with Increased Food Insecurity Threatens Food Bank Programs as Pandemic Wears On
SAN FRANCISCO (October 14, 2020) – A shortage of volunteers jeopardizes The Food Bank’s critical COVID-19 response programs. Over the past several weeks the Food Bank was only able to fill approximately 50% of its volunteer slots.
The San Francisco-Marin Food Bank continues to serve nearly double the households compared to before the pandemic. To meet the dramatic need, the Food Bank opened 29 emergency Pop-up Food Pantries and launched its new Pantry at Home program to deliver fresh groceries to seniors sheltering in place to protect their health.
It takes 2,000 volunteers per week – up from 1,200 pre-pandemic – to run these emergency programs. Without more volunteers, the Food Bank may need to shut down or scale back some of these programs.
“Volunteers are the backbone of our operation, without them many families would be forced to choose between buying food or other essential needs,” said Cody Jang, Senior Community Engagement Manager, San Francisco-Marin Food Bank. “We desperately need volunteers to maintain these programs and continue to serve all our participants, especially those most impacted by COVID-19.”
While the Food Bank saw a sharp drop in volunteers in March due to companies and other organizations ending group volunteer outings, there was an immediate and overwhelming response from individuals in the community. Now, between pandemic fatigue, a phased re-opening in our counties, and the Food Bank’s additional programs is driving another sharp decline.
The Food Bank needs both individuals and organizations to sign up today and consider committing on a weekly basis. Families are also welcome. Volunteers as young as 15 may work at a Pop-up Pantry, in the San Francisco warehouse children as young as 11 on weekdays, eight on Saturdays and four on Sundays are welcome with their parents. At the Marin Warehouse, all volunteers must be at least 11 years old.
Safety of volunteers, staff and participants is a top priority. The Food Bank implements all CDC and county safety guidelines including requiring masks and gloves, conducting shifts outdoors where possible, encouraging social distancing, and frequently cleaning high-touch surfaces.
To volunteer visit: https://www.sfmfoodbank.org/volunteer/.
ABOUT SAN FRANCISCO-MARIN FOOD BANK
San Francisco-Marin Food Bank’s mission is to end hunger in San Francisco and Marin. Before the pandemic, one in five neighbors was at risk of hunger. We envision a community where everyone is able to obtain enough nutritious food in a dignified manner to support the health and well-being of themselves and their families. We address hunger head on: from our pantry network and home-delivered groceries to our nutrition-education classes and food-stamp enrollment, we work in many ways to nourish and empower neighbors in need. Every week, 60,000 households count on us for food assistance. Nearly 60 percent of what we distribute is fresh fruits and vegetables. Learn more at www.sfmfoodbank.org.
Keely Hopkins, Communications and Social Media Manager
415-282-1900, ext. 292 | firstname.lastname@example.org