As the COVID-19 situation intensifies daily, the Food Bank is facing an unprecedented challenge to support our neighbors who were already receiving assistance from the Food Bank as well as those who now find themselves facing hunger as a result of lost hours, wages, or jobs.
On Monday, March 16, 2020, food banks were officially named by the California Department of Public Health as an essential service provider, similar to a grocery store. Now, more than ever, our continued efforts are critical to ensuring that those with limited financial resources get access to the food they need to weather the pandemic. We have ramped up those efforts to overcome growing barriers to food access.
In order to meet the dramatic need, we are opening Pop-up pantries across San Francisco and Marin to accommodate large numbers of people who have lost access to food due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As of next week, we’ll have 25 pop-ups, most of them are serving about 10 times more people than our regular pantries. Many of them are drive-thrus.
Some of our pop-up pantries are located at schools that are offering to-go meals for students. At the same place as students and parents pick up their breakfast and lunch, they will also be able to get pre-bagged groceries to take home.
We are working closely with our pantry partners to help keep as many pantries open as possible so they can continue to serve participants. We continue to purchase and send out extra shelf-stable food items (above and beyond the typical bag of groceries) for participants to set aside in case they can’t make it to a future weekly pantry.
Low-income seniors are often the most vulnerable to food insecurity, and now they are facing even more challenges given they are also the most vulnerable to COVID-19. Many of our senior participants are sheltering in place and no longer have access to their weekly pantries. Together with partners and Food Bank volunteers, we are ramping up our home-delivery program to provide groceries to homebound seniors. As of today, we reach about 11,o00 seniors.
The health, safety, and well-being of our employees, volunteers, partners, and participants is a top priority. By following all CDC guidelines, cleaning, practicing social distancing, and wearing face masks, our goal is to maintain safe practices that will reduce the risk of virus transmission while avoiding the disruption of this essential service for the community. We are closely monitoring the situation and reevaluating our safety protocols daily.
The outpouring of support we’ve received in the past few days is inspiring. We can’t do this without you. Thank you.
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households receiving weekly groceries - 32,000 more than before the pandemic
new emergency Pop-up pantries have been launched
more calls requesting CalFresh (food stamps) application assistance
increase in visits to our Food Locator tool
seniors sheltering in place get home-delivered groceries
The Food Bank continues to do the day-in and day-out job...Read More
We are now struggling with the new reality in the wake of the COVID-19...Read More
Q: How is COVID-19 impacting food distribution?
So far, about a third of our 275 pantries have temporarily closed for a variety of safety-based reasons. To ensure our participants did not lose access to food, and that we could meet the need of new participants, we raced to open new pop-up pantries that are anywhere from 5–10 times the size of our average weekly pantry. We have also ramped up our home-delivery grocery program to reach seniors sheltering in place.
To protect the health of our volunteers and staff, we have made changes to our warehouse volunteer program. For example, we have reduced the number of volunteers at each shift and stopped non-essential projects. Right now we are only packing senior boxes, grocery bags for delivery to homebound neighbors, and doing some sorting of food donations.
Q: When will you cancel the food distribution?
We’ll continue to carry out our mission as long as it’s safe for our staff. Access to nutritious food is essential to maintaining good health, and it’s more important than ever to reach people in need during times of crisis.
Q: What are you doing to ensure the health and safety of your staff, volunteers, and participants?
We are in close contact with the San Francisco Department of Public Health (SFDPH) and are following their recommendations. In response to the COVID-19 situation, we have reduced the number of volunteers at each shift and are conducting shifts outside when possible. We have doubled down on cleaning and handwashing—and, of course, hand sanitizer and disinfectant are readily available. The volunteers wear face masks, use gloves, and practice social distancing per CDC guidelines. At the pantries, our volunteers help bag the food to speed up the lines and help create as much space as possible between participants and volunteers. All of our staff who can conduct their work from home are doing so.
Q: Do you anticipate needing to feed more participants?
The dramatic increase in lost wages, hours, and jobs as a result of the shelter-in-place order means that there are significantly more people in need of our help. As of today, we are serving 20,000 more households than before the pandemic. We expect that number to grow exponentially. Additionally, in our experience during past economic downturns, we expect to see increased levels of need for food even after the shelter in place orders are lifted as people are slowly able to regain employment and restabilize their family’s financial situation.
Q: How can I get help?
If you are in need of food assistance, click here
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