As Lockdowns Wear on, Food Bank Grows Services to Meet Still-High Need

File photo: San Francisco Food Bank volunteer Jim Caddick stocks shelves with soup in 2012.

Audrey Whitmeyer-Weathers/San Francisco Public Press

File photo: San Francisco Food Bank volunteer Jim Caddick stocks shelves with soup in 2012.

Hunger has come along with job losses during pandemic-related shutdowns. In the Bay Area, food banks continue to see long lines. The San Francisco-Marin Food Bank has roughly doubled the number of people it serves since before the pandemic. The cost of procuring that food, meanwhile, is rising as federal aid programs expire. For many, said Tina Gonzalez, director of community partnerships for the food bank, what they receive isn’t just supplemental to what they can afford on their own — rather, they depend on it. The holidays perennially bring out volunteers to help distribute food to those who need it, but the high need is likely to persist into the new year, and Gonzalez said the food pantry will likely remain in high gear even after case rates have lowered and lockdown restrictions lifted.

“The need for holiday meals and holiday food for households has doubled. That means for us that we not only fundraise during this time for the holidays and for the year, but we’re doubling what we need and doubling the ask. It definitely feels like we have been supported — people have seen our work, we’re in the community — we continue to get donations. But the longevity of serving double the community that needs food right now, there is no, sort of, end in sight. So we know that we’re going to continue to need the donations throughout this year to meet this need.”

— Tina Gonzalez

A segment from our radio show and podcast, “Civic.” Listen daily at 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. on 102.5 FM in San Francisco, and subscribe on Apple, Google, Spotify or Stitcher