Report Finds SF-Marin Food Bank Delivery Program Fills Critical Gap for
Low-Income San Francisco and Marin Residents
The Program Faces an Unsustainable $2.1 Million Operating Cost Increase
San Francisco, CA (March 30, 2023) – A San Francisco-Marin Food Bank report finds the Food Bank’s Home-Delivered Groceries (HDG) Program —one of the largest of its kind in the country —reaches several key populations who are not being served by other food insecurity programs in San Francisco and Marin Counties. The report shows how HDG provides groceries directly to 13,000 people, including seniors, residents with disabilities, people who are pregnant, and parents of children aged three and younger, and has the potential to be a model for cities nationwide.
While the HDG program provides a much-needed service for low-income individuals who are unable to attend a weekly food pantry, its ability to continue at current levels is in jeopardy due to funding and resource challenges.
Each week participants receive a bag of healthy groceries – 60% of which is fresh produce – delivered directly to their door.
Survey results from households receiving HDG show an overwhelmingly positive response to this approach to combat food insecurity. 93% of HDG participants are less worried about getting enough food, 92% feel healthier, and 95% eat more produce and whole grains.
HDG has also proven effective in eliminating barriers to food access, including mobility issues, transportation limitations, schedule constraints, and more.
“I was the victim of a hit-and-run a few years ago and I live in pain on a daily basis,” said Violet, a 92-year-old Richmond District resident and HDG participant. “The produce is just wonderful. It’s hard for me to lug vegetables home – they’re heavy, you know?”
In San Francisco and Marin approximately . Additionally, low-income pregnant people have some of the highest food insecurity rates, and access to transportation is a significant barrier to food access for this group.
“The existing service landscape, beyond the HDG program, is simply not able to provide enough accessible supplemental food assistance to meet population needs,” said Diana Jenson, MPP, report author and food insecurity and social services analyst. “It is rare that existing food programs fit together effectively to truly meet the needs of these populations. Either food assistance programs don’t provide enough food, delivery is not available, or both.”
The report also finds the HDG program offers much more than a bag of groceries. It provides empowerment, social connection, and contributes to the physical and mental health of participants.
“I’m a victim of domestic violence, and a single mom. With HDG, I have enough time to spend in my support group, to go to therapy, to speak with my lawyer, to be with my child,” said Gabriela, a single mother of a three-year-old girl, SOMA resident, and HDG participant. “[Getting groceries delivered] just takes a little bit of time out of this whole complicated thing.”
Program in Jeopardy
Corporate partners generously supported 76 percent of all deliveries in January. As the pandemic recedes from society’s collective consciousness, that in-kind support is disappearing. A shift in commitment from one major corporate partner starting in March is estimated to increase the program’s cost by $2.1 million annually – an unsustainable budget increase for the Food Bank.
“HDG makes up nearly 25% of the 53,000 households the Food Bank serves each week. Both the reach and the impact of this service are tremendous,” said Seth Harris, HDG Program Manager. “But now that we’re seeing declining corporate support, we need more volunteers to maintain the program. Without help from the community, we’ll be forced to scale it down.”
Additional public funding from agencies such as the Department of Disability and Aging Services (DAS) is critical to continue meeting the need in our community and to sustain the program at its current levels. Otherwise, the Food Bank will be forced to reduce the number of participants it is able to serve through delivery. Research estimates the health care costs associated with food insecurity are $204.6 million for San Francisco County. Investing in programs like Home-Delivered Groceries will ensure San Francisco is supporting its community and lowering healthcare costs over the long term.
The Food Bank is also looking for additional corporate delivery partners and volunteers who can commit to regular volunteer shifts over several months. Learn more about volunteering here: https://volunteering.sfmfoodbank.org/grocery-delivery-onboarding/.
HDG uniquely supports low-income individuals who may lack access to food due to shifting work schedules, caregiver responsibilities, mobility or cognitive disabilities, and more that make it hard to attend a food pantry. Participants include:
- 4% of participants live in Marin County
- 74% are women
- 72% are older adults
- 13 K households totaling 30 K+ people who rely on HDG every week
- 7 K children rely on HDG
ABOUT THE FOOD BANK
The San Francisco-Marin Food Bank’s mission is to end hunger in San Francisco and Marin, where even before the pandemic, one in five neighbors was at risk of hunger. We envision a community where everyone has access to nutritious food of their choosing and is uplifted by a network of support. Together with community partners, we work to address hunger head-on through neighborhood food pantries, CalFresh enrollment, home-delivered groceries, and policy and advocacy efforts. We work with our community to create lasting solutions to address both the hunger we see today and the root causes that perpetuate food insecurity in our society. Every week, 53,000 households count on us for food assistance. 60% of what we distribute is fresh fruits and vegetables. Visit sfmfoodbank.org to learn more.
Senior Communications Manager, San Francisco-Marin Food Bank