By Tanya Henry
Whenever I hear about the number of folks who experience some kind of food insecurity, I’m always surprised. It’s especially alarming to learn just how many people in an affluent county like Marin don’t have enough to eat. The SF-Marin Food Bank supports 250 food pantries, and 47 of them are here in Marin.
Since its merger five years ago, the SF-Marin Food Bank has distributed six million pounds of food a year in the county. With a warehouse in Novato, 14-15 full-time staff members and hundreds of volunteers, the nonprofit has grown from 18 pantry locations to nearly 50.
Sixteen Marin-based grocery stores partner with the SF-Food Bank’s Fresh Rescue program in which trucks pick up the retailers’ excess food supply (six days a week) and distribute it to pantries located throughout the county. In addition, surplus food from the San Francisco warehouse augments Marin’s supplies, and is then retrieved by volunteers (who individually manage their pantries) and distribute in their communities as needed.
“We are trying to think creatively about ways to reach the underserved,” explains Senior Program Coordinator Irene Garcia, who points to regions in West Marin and those who “anchor out” on boats on Richardson Bay as hard to reach.
The SF-Food Bank rolled out a “mobile pantries” program this past July in the city in an attempt to penetrate underserved regions. Though not yet an official program, perhaps this model might be an effective way to reach those in unincorporated and more remote regions of our county.
Fresh produce makes up two-thirds of the food in the pantries, but with the holidays approaching there are typically special items donated like whole chickens, cranberry sauce and green beans. Garcia says they are already gearing up for Thanksgiving and typically get the special offerings into pantries the week before the holiday.
Looking for ways to help or give this season? Learn more at sfmfoodbank.org.
SF-Marin Food Bank, Marin warehouse, 75 Digital Drive, Novato; 415/883-1302.