The Food Pantry will be closed on November 25 (the day after Thanksgiving), December 23 (the Friday before Christmas) and December 30 (the Friday before New Years.)
Archive for November, 2011
If you’re looking for the perfect holiday gift for family and friends, consider making a donation to The Food Pantry in a loved one’s name. Send us a donation, along with the name and address of the person you’d like to honor, and we will send them a beautiful notecard, letting them know that you’ve made a gift in their name.
You can make a donation of any amount: $50 will buy groceries for a hungry family for a whole year! Send your checks and notecard requests to: The Food Pantry, 500 DeHaro Street, San Francisco CA 94107, or use the “donate” button on our website. Thank you for sharing the holidays with others, and helping us bring about PEACE ON EARTH, AND FOOD FOR ALL.
Unlike many programs that rely on canned goods and processed foods, The Food Pantry gives away mostly fresh fruits and vegetables. Thanks to the San Francisco Food Bank and its network of local farmers, we distribute literally tons of delicious, healthy produce every single week. And we’re always grateful for smaller, super-local donations from backyard gardeners, who share their extra produce with us: if you live in San Francisco and want to donate fruit or vegetables from your garden, give us a call!
Winter means we go back to our roots in a big way: yams, sweet potatoes, potatoes, onions, carrots, turnips and beets….and greens to keep it all fresh. For fruit we have apples and pears, and the last of the grapes, with citrus of all kinds starting to come in. It makes a big difference to the families we serve when they can eat real food instead of packaged food.
This fall, we celebrated two wonderful anniversaries: the 11th year of The Food Pantry, and the first year of the New Taste Marketplace. The inspiration of local food activist Elianna Roffman, New Taste Marketplace is a monthly benefit that brings together dozens of the city’s most interesting chefs, bakers, and artisan food producers to support The Food Pantry and St. Gregory’s. “I like to think of it as an overgrown bake sale,” says Elianna.
The market, like The Food Pantry, happens right in the middle of the church, amid the beautiful icons, where tables are spread with local delights. Volunteers from The Food Pantry, vendors, and visitors come from all over the city to hang out, talk, and savor all kinds of treats: bourbon-peach paletas, home-brewed ginger ale, smoked brisket sandwiches, Argentine empanadas, Bangkok green curry, Eritrean chicken stew, salted caramel truffles, five-spice bacon, butter-crust pear pies, strawberry mochi, lemon tarts, pickled artichokes, pumpkin-seed brittle, local preserves, jams, teas, coffees, and so much more.
“I love it that New Taste is held in the exact same space as The Food Pantry,” says Elianna, who includes local musicians in the market mix, and sets up picnic tables in warm weather where families can eat and mingle. “It adds to the sense of giving and community.” Michael Lee, a vendor whose “Spicy Dumplings” stall is a favorite with visitors, agrees. “It’s such a perfect marriage of pantry work and the vibrant street food scene that’s exploding here in San Francisco,” he says. “When I did my first New Taste Marketplace my burners kept short-circuiting and losing power. But even so, there was a certain kind of calmness that I only feel here. Once I walk through the main doors and into the rotunda and see the mural of dancing figures, I know I’ll be greeted by great volunteers from The Food Pantry who’ve been helping feed hungry people for years.”
We’re so grateful for the creativity and generosity of the vendors, and for Elianna’s vision that connects foodies with food pantries. Come and see for yourself: schedule and details at www.newtastemarketplace.org. New Taste Marketplace is food for the soul!
More than fifty volunteers run The Food Pantry at St. Gregory of Nyssa Episcopal Church in San Francisco. Most are people who came to get food and stayed to help out; some are neighbors, and some are first-time visitors. Every one of them has a story, and together they create a living, growing community. This issue’s interview is with volunteer Mel Raymond.
I grew up in Chester, Pennsylvania. My dad was a volunteering type of guy. I was even a Boy Scout. Never made Eagle, though: I got into music instead. Our family church was Zion Baptist, where I picked up the drums. The best song we did in church was “Bye and Bye,” my grandmother’s favorite. She’d stomp and clap when we sang that hymn, it made her so happy.
My brother was a DJ when he was in high school. He had a lot of equipment, and would always warn me, “Don’t touch it!” But I’d figure out how to unlock his stuff and hook it all up. We were into the hip-hop scene––old-school stuff. My mother hated it. “Turn that rap crap off!” she’d say.
Right after college I was working a temp job and met two guys who also liked hip-hop. We had the same
mindset, the same sense of beats, and started up a little studio in North Philadelphia. It was pretty much a dump. We just had a room with a keyboard, a mic and some software, and the three of us formed a production company making music for local artists.
In 2007 I moved to Phoenix to make music with my friend Raheem. We did a lot of writing and touring, and I found a job in a software company. But I got laid off, and my brother told me to come to the Bay Area. I got work with a software company in San Francisco, and then they laid me off, too.
Two weeks later I was trying to figure out what I should do. I saw the “volunteers wanted” ad for The Food Pantry and it seemed like a good way to pass time. I show up, and the first person I see is Angela, this lady with a big smile, she’s talking fast: “Hello, what’s your name, how are you, are you here to volunteer, that’s great, do you want something to eat, wonderful, wonderful…” Everyone else was really welcoming, too, and from then on it was a wrap.
In Philadelphia, there were all these different social groups, and they were closed off. In San Francisco people pretty much keep to themselves. I just never experienced the diversity of anything like The Food Pantry. I mean, I’m a black guy from the East Coast, and here I’m friends with someone from Argentina, and Chile, and England, and China, and all over. I’ve never had a negative experience. We take care of each other: really, this place is my family.
Sometimes I’d see a few people come for food who I thought. hey, are you just here to work the system? But the more I was around, I understood the philosophy we have: “All are welcome.” Because if you have a great spirit, if you welcome everyone, things just go the way they should.
I like to work outside with Eduardo and my three elderly Chinese ladies who translate. I call them my girlfriends. You really get to know the families who come to the pantry. The older and disabled folks have opened up to me. I’ve learned so much about all their lives, and I enjoy making sure they’re getting what they need. I don’t know how I’m going to be able to tell them I’m leaving.
Because the hard thing is I’m moving back to Phoenix. I’m going to work with my music partner––his career’s opening up, and he has a place for me. We’re planning a trip to Japan, and some touring inside the country. But I miss it here already.
You really can’t describe in words the spirit of volunteering and fellowship at The Food Pantry. Going through this experience together, you get a more wide-open view: a wider appreciation for humanity and the goodness of humanity.
This November marks the 11th year of The Food Pantry. We give thanks for all the volunteers, over the years, who’ve lent their brains, backs, arms and whole hearts to this work, and who have come together to create a vibrant, living community; to our donors, who offer cans of beans, dollar bills and steady pledges; to St. Gregory of Nyssa Episcopal Church, which incubated us, loves us and prays for us; to New Taste Marketplace and its cooks, bakers and vendors, whose passion for food is matched with a passion for feeding people; to the San Francisco Food Bank and its network of growers who provide us with fresh, healthy food…and to all of you, who sustain us.
Please make your own Thanksgiving gift here, and share your thanks with us.