Food banks rescue families from hunger


People lined up early, before the food pantry opened at a community center in the Mission District. They wanted to get an early start on their choice of fresh food. Luckily, there was plenty of food available for 130 families who find they simply don't have enough money to buy food for their family.

"There are twice as many people now as there was a year ago, coming to get food assistance for the families," said Paul Ash from the San Francisco Food Bank.

The community food bank is open daily, which is similar to 59 other centers across the city. It is really set up as a convenience.

"It's better for people to receive food in your own neighborhood. If you have a child in a stroller and you are going to carry 30 pounds of groceries home with you, you don't want to have to get on a bus to go across town," said Ash.

What happens at the food bank is that they are offered choices and then they use their imagination to make up a creative menu. It is to make sure that no child goes hungry.

"Treating this like a farmers' market where people can the items they want and if they don't like an item, not take that, is important to their dignity and two, it keeps from wasting food," said Ash.

"Look at these tomatoes... you can make salsa with tacos, enchiladas, and then sopitos. You can make whatever," said Mission District resident Felicatas Huezno.

It is an astonishing fact that there are nearly 15 million children who live in poverty in this country. More than ever food banks and other programs in your county need your help.

"Everyone can help by making a donation, by volunteering, and also by advocating for our government priorities that support feeding children and feeding families," said Ash.

Many families work hard and yet their dollars don't go far enough for food. It's a familiar story.

"We make good money, but it just seems it is not enough," said Evangaline Cabrera.

Cabrera manages a coffee shop, her husband Sean is a party planner, and they have two small children.

"At the emergency food relief food bank here in Alameda they provide some meats, some frozen foods, some non-perishable cans," said Cabrera.

"Forty-two percent of our clients are working families. Right now, we're serving 49,000 people each week and about half of these are children," said Michael Altfest from the Alameda County Community Food Bank.

The Cabrera's use the emergency food bank a couple of times a year or rely on food stamps.

"I don't plan on using them forever, but at this time in my life right now we kind of need them," said Cabrera.

It appears 5-year-old Alex and 2-year-old Alliana are healthy, which is important to their development.

In San Francisco, the number of people relying on the San Francisco food bank has doubled in one year.

"Almost half of the people we serve have some member of the household working," said Ash.

You can help make donations to local food banks or make monetary donations online.
Bay Area Food Banks

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