Though we are all suffering from pandemic fatigue, the need for food remains constant as our neighbors continue to be out of work even as vaccinations become available. In the second year of the pandemic, the Food Bank is continuing its emergency programming and adhering to all CDC health and safety guidelines, making this the new normal for our operations. When there’s a need, the Food Bank is there.
To meet the dramatic increase in the need for food, we have opened 27 emergency Pop-up pantries across San Francisco and Marin. Every week, our pantry network is distributing food to about 55,000 families weekly. That is almost double our pre-COVID numbers. Our Pop-ups will stay open as long as necessary, and with community support, we’ll be able to open even more pantries in more neighborhoods that need our help.
Low-income seniors are not only vulnerable to food insecurity but the increased health risks of COVID. While folks wait to be vaccinated, the Food Bank is continuing our distribution of food through our expanded home-delivered grocery program to close to 9,000 homebound seniors and people with disabilities. We rely on hundreds of volunteers and partners to make those deliveries each and every week.
The outpouring of support we’ve received in the past year is inspiring. We can’t do this without you. Thank you.
As many as 55,000 households rely on us every week, nearly twice as many as before the pandemic. But a number only reveals so much – it masks the people, the care, the compassion we’ve seen at the Food Bank. We set out to gather the stories of community and food bankers in a world turned upside down.
Join our mailing list and we'll send updates about the crisis and what the Food Bank is doing to meet the growing need in the community.
as many households receiving weekly groceries compared to before the pandemic
new emergency Pop-up pantries have been launched
more visits to our Food Locator tool
seniors sheltering in place get home-delivered groceries
In September, we published a report covering the need in our two counties and our impact.
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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. Volunteers and staff 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 28,000 more households than before the pandemic. 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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