December 05 2023 at 09:00AM
PMI Green team lends a hand to the SF-Marin Food Bank
As we all give thanks for our many blessings and good fortune during this holiday season, many of us took a few hours out of the morning on November 4th and donated our time to help fill and bag groceries for those in need at the SF-Marin Food Bank. Early morning at the facility was cold as it sometimes is in San Francisco, but it didn’t dampen the spirits of our PMI SF Green team as we were happy to share our time and energy for a good cause.
At the start of our shift, the staff from the Food Bank greeted us with fist bumps and warm smiles. The staff asked us to put on latex gloves for handling the food and explained the food packing process to us. All around us was the food we would be packing such as chicken, lettuce, cucumbers, carrots, canned goods and apples. We were split into groups along the grocery packing line. We made sure each grocery bag had a balanced variety of food groups and enough quantity to feed a family for a week. One filled bag turned into two, into three and so on. Our team was a well-oiled machine. There was a couple who were volunteering with us and were dressed up as Wonder Woman and Superman. I smiled every time I saw them. There were certainly a room full of Wonder Women and Supermen on this day.
On the grocery line, we chatted with each other and learned more about each other's backgrounds, interests, and motivations for PMI and for volunteering at the Food Bank. It was a rewarding experience to work with the volunteers as well as see how hard the Food Bank staff works to produce the number of bags of groceries necessary to feed the community. These men and women do this year-round, and it was evident why they are successful. It is certainly a labor of love. At the end of our shift, we gathered around, and the foreman told us that we filled and distributed 900 bags of groceries. Tremendous! At the start, it was thought that we’d pack about 800 bags. Then our team grew a little larger. We learned that the bags of groceries were being delivered by DoorDash drivers through a project called Project Dash where the groceries are delivered to those in need. This allows seniors, people with disabilities and those with children to make fewer trips to the grocery store, allows them the ability to stretch public benefits further, and saves them time and money from having to travel to the Food Bank by public transportation or car.
We also learned more about the Food Bank's mission and how they serve over 55,000 households every week with their programs and partnerships. Pre-pandemic, the Food Bank served an average of 32,000 households. This is a 72% increase of where the need is today. During the pandemic, people using CalFresh (also known as food stamps) received a minimum “emergency allotment” of $95 a month. That federal funding ended in April, meaning that many lower-income Californians experienced a big reduction in their benefits. Instead of functioning as sources of emergency aid, food banks are becoming long-term supermarkets for our neighbors facing food insecurity.
As we left the facility, we thanked each other, feeling more connected and inspired by our shared act of kindness. I hoped the people who received the groceries from us enjoyed the food and felt our love and support for them. Some of them might be homeless, unemployed, disabled, elderly, sick or just needed that extra bag of groceries to make it to the next paycheck. It is important, more now than ever, that we share in our abundance with others. At any time, any one of us can be in the same situation. More needs to be done to reduce hunger and help the Food Banks in our communities. They are funded mostly by private donations, especially this time of year. Contact the Food Bank in your area if this story inspires you to take action and support those who struggle to afford enough food in our communities.