The Food Pantry at St. Gregory’s Church at 500 DeHaro Street will be CLOSED for renovation in September. We will re-open Friday October 2nd. If you need food in the meantime, please call 211 in San Francisco to find locations of other pantries near you.
Archive for August, 2009
On the Line
One of our volunteers, Virginia Giblin, reflects on her experience at The Food Pantry on Friday, August 14.
Today I worked outside, where the people line up waiting to be let in. It takes some crowd management skills at certain points, as well as an open mind, friendliness and a good sense of humor. What stood out for me were several non-English-speaking people coming up, gesticulating, waving their drivers’ licenses and demanding…what? Then I realized: these people are 80 years old and are telling me to let them in!
We have a policy that says if you’re over 80 you do not have to stand in line in the sun, wind, rain, or other elements. So once I caught on, they were escorted right in. I marvel at these people coming across town on a Muni bus to load up their bags and then, like pirates laden with booty, climbing back on another bus and carrying everything back to their kitchen larder. People, that booty, especially if it includes a watermelon, is quite a lot to haul across town!
Of course some of the older folks are accompanied by family members. We have one woman who arrives weekly with her daughter-in-law. She is 97 years of age, spry and sharp as a tack. Once she hit my foot with her shopping cart. I barely felt it, as I was wearing my beloved Frye boots. She grasped my wrist to get my attention to apologize to me. Lord, I say, let me be that strong and bright-eyed at 97!
So many times, we don’t see the elderly or those older than us, since “old” really only means “older than me.” We have another woman who must be in her nineties who comes weekly with her daughter. She walks slowly and carefully with a cane, often assisted by one of our volunteers, while the younger woman gathers the groceries. The daughter said to me, “This is her only outing every week. She just loves coming here.” To which I honestly replied, “And we love seeing her.”
Today, we served 890 people. At the end, we put together a substantial bag of groceries for one of our volunteers to take home to his 80 year old mother, who’s fallen ill. I saw that it’s not just about food: it’s about caring and sharing. That’s what we do every week at The Food Pantry.
Each week we rely on dozens of volunteers to serve hundreds of people–over 850 folks this last Friday. Here is how one of our volunteers, Virgina, described the day:
The first Friday in August was hot, and we served over 850 people who lined up to collect quite a summer bounty of produce and staples. Our clients took home garlic, potatoes, red onions, green beans, corn on the cob, mushrooms, melon, zucchini, salad greens, cabbage, strawberries, enormous watermelons, granola bars, bags of Chinese noodles, cans of beans, peaches, pears, apples and a lot of loaves of sliced white bread.
We had three different groups who traveled to San Francisco to volunteer with us. Some are studying how to run food pantries in their own communities. Others, particularly high-school students and church groups, are just eager to lend a hand. We talk with them, train them, answer their questions, feed them lunch—and put them to work!
The teenagers are a blessing. Often they’re recruited to lift the heavy crates and the overflowing bags of the elderly. The Food Pantry has to run like a well-oiled machine to keep it running at all, and it takes a whole lot of hands to do what needs to be done—as well as over $900 to supplement the food we receive. We’re so grateful for your contributions of money and time: Thanks to all the cogs in the big machine for making this work so well!
Scores of volunteers worked for hours arranging hundreds of pounds of fresh produce delivered by the San Francisco Food Bank. A record 907 individuals came through the pantry. Each received a cornucopia of summer produce, including ears of corn, watermelon, tomatoes, fresh greens, fettuccini, beans and rice. A huge thank you to all of our volunteers for their hard work!