Food distributors and kitchens prepare for busy holiday season

Food distributors and kitchens prepare for busy holiday season

Isabelle Pinard
Managing Editor

Charities like the San Francisco Food Bank and the Society of St. Vincent De Paul are preparing for the holidays by stocking up on supplies and requesting more hands for volunteer work as the demand for groceries and food increases during the down-turned economy.

Food Bank
A volunteer packages grapefruits for storage at the SF Food Bank in preparation for Thanksgiving. The Food Bank will distribute 1,007,800 pounds of food through its holiday distributions. ISABELLE PINARD | The Broadview

Even with a large turnout of volunteers this year, the San Francisco Food Bank lost $592,000 in federal funding for vital social service programs this year due to new rules set by the national Emergency Food and Shelter Program, overseen by FEMA and needs food donations.

The San Francisco Food Bank plans to distribute over a million pounds of food through its holiday distributions this year, according to its media manager Stacy Newman.

“During the holiday season, the Food Bank will need to provide more than 36,000 households with food to prepare Thanksgiving meals in their own homes,” Newman said. “That is the equivalent to 1,007,800 pounds of food.”

The volunteers at the food bank sort through, repack and shelve up to 400 tons of food in their warehouses every week.

“I remember volunteering at the San Francisco Food Bank over the holidays sorting through groceries,” senior Aggie Kruse said. “I talked with some of the other volunteers and was really impressed to see how dedicated our community can be.”

This year the San Francisco Food Bank will be celebrating 25 years of service, as 63 fulltime employees come together to pull off 131,000 hours of volunteer work and serving up to an estimated 225,000 people, according to Newman.

The Society of St. Vincent De Paul aides about 400 and more people every day providing two meals a day, stop-in medical care and clothing for the homeless according to the Multi-Service Center of St. Vincent De Paul.

“We served 650 people in last year’s Thanksgiving Dinner at our MSC,” volunteer coordinator Tim Szarnicki said. “This year we hope to have the same result.”

MSC is the largest homeless shelter in Northern California, and is newly renovated this year by members of the International Interior Design Associaiton Northern California Chapter.

“We are lucky that we can provide all of our own food and labour for this Thanksgiving holiday,” Snarnicki said. “That is a blessing, however we always want people to get involved in any way that they can through volunteering or donations — anything helps.”

Food supplies come form a mixture of non-profit organizations, food budget grants and donations, so more donations means fewer hungry people on the street over Thanksgiving according to MSC.

“Volunteering allows us to give back to our community,” senior Aggie Kruse said. “Therefore, spending even just a couple hours at places like the San Francisco Food Bank can make a huge difference, plus you get community hours for volunteering. It’s a win-win situation.”

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