image by Käthe Köllwitz
In San Francisco, more than 150,000 people live at or far below the the poverty line and are in desperate need of food aid; in 2008 the SF Food Bank alone distributed 33 million pounds of food to local hungry residents, many of whom are seniors and children.
San Francisco’s Food Security Task Force has just released information showing the huge increase in numbers of people needing food assistance, and the growing strain that is being put on food relief agencies. Hunger is soaring and donations have been dropping. Local food pantries have seen a 13.5% increase in need from the year before. During the first federal fiscal quarter (July-Sep.) of 2008 Glide Memorial Church saw an 18.9% increase in the number of individual meals served from the previous year. And our economy is continuing to decline; unemployment in the Bay Area is nearly in double digits, which puts more and more people at risk of going hungry every single day.
The San Francisco Food Security Task Force was created in 2005 to create better coordination and efficiency among city groups and local agencies that deal with healthy food access; they are also responsible for researching and making recommendations on how to best shape a comprehensive sustainable food policy system for the city of San Francisco. The group is a consortium of various forces, including the SF Department of the Environment, DPH, SFUSD. SEFA, local food pantries, farms and many other organizations, such as the YMCA, Project Open Hand, the Garden Project and Veritable Vegetable. They are all working together to help form a more sustainable food system that is better able to make available affordable, healthy, locally grown food to all residents of the city.
Food is a basic right; if you or someone you know in San Francisco is in need of food aid, there are many resources available. For food pantries where you can pick up free groceries and pantries for free meals, call 211 on any phone in San Francisco to be connected to the social service hot line. Food stamps can help low-income citizens and legal US residents buy food at grocery stores and local farmers markets. Call the food stamp hotline (415) 558-1001 for assistance. If you would like to donate to your local Bay Area food bank call (800) 870-3663.