San Francisco-Marin Food Bank and Corporate Volunteering: Alleviating Poverty with Food Banks

By Marleen Olmos | November 20, 2018 | Disaster Relief, Philanthropy Cloud, Volunteering

San Francisco-Marin Food Bank and Corporate Volunteering: Alleviating Poverty with Food Banks

Food Banks are a vital resource to our communities. One in four people in San Francisco and Marin face hunger and are in need of food every single day. Here in the bay area, Food Bank staff work around the clock to provide the best service to our neighbors and communities by providing nourishing meals with dignity.

The San Francisco-Marin Food Bank is the center of our region’s nonprofit ecosystem. They supply food to more than 400 partner programs and organizations like Hamilton Families, Larkin Street, GLIDE, Meals on Wheels, and St. Anthony’s, just to name a few. The San Francisco-Marin Food Bank has truly been a revolutionary food bank that has started multiple programs that have been replicated and utilized across the nation including Farm to Family, Food Pharmacies, Farmers Market Style Pantry Networks, and much more.

Fresh Food for Healthy Communities

The San Francisco-Marin Food Bank strives to erase the misconception that food banks only provide canned and packaged food. Programs like Farm to Family partner with farmers up and down California, encouraging them to donate surplus fruits and vegetables and produce that would be turned away from grocery stores due to odd shape or size. This enables San Francisco-Marin Food Bank to deliver thousands of pounds of fresh produce every day — 60% of the food they give out. Their food pantries invite participants to gather produce and other nutritional staples in a farmers market style with dignity and respect. A recent menu for one of their pantries in Chinatown included several fresh fruits (strawberries, cantaloupes, grapefruits, and stone fruits); six different types of fresh vegetables; rice; eggs; and a non-meat protein (black bean patties).

One of the Food Bank’s most recent innovations is Food Pharmacies. They partner with hospitals, clinics and doctors to prescribe healthy foods to patients with hypertension and diabetes. In many cases, access to healthy foods helps patients improve not only their diet, but also their health outcomes. These partnerships have allowed patients facing hunger to access the vital nutrition they need.

Food Banks: Leaders in Disaster Response

Food Banks are also second responders when disaster strikes. Following the largest fire in California history, the Mendocino Complex Fire, Food Banks provided an enormous amount of emergency food and water to survivors and also sent staff to support Food Banks in the most affected areas.

Volunteers help the San Francisco-Marin Food Bank make efficient use of resources. In this photo, volunteers staff a mini farmers-market style stand to local families at Summer Healthy Children’s Pantries in Western Addition.
Volunteers help the San Francisco-Marin Food Bank make efficient use of resources. In this photo, volunteers staff a mini farmers-market style stand to local families at Summer Healthy Children’s Pantries in Western Addition.

Volunteers play a significantly vital role in making all of this happen. The consistent volunteer hours contributed by individuals and employee volunteering programs adds up to about 70 FTEs for the San Francisco-Marin Food Bank each year. Every week, 140,000 people count on the San Francisco-Marin Food Bank to provide the food they need.

Salesforce and San Francisco-Marin Food Bank have a long-standing relationship. Over the years, Salesforce employees volunteered more than 20,000 hours of service to the Food Bank. That’s the equivalent of 10 full-time employees over the lifetime of our partnership (about 2.5 employees a year)!

Through our Becoming Salesforce new-hire program, we send over 150 Salesforce employees a month to work side by side with the Food Bank’s operations staff, sorting fruits and vegetables. Together, volunteers at the Food Bank pack and sort about one million pounds of food every month — most of which is fresh produce which requires quick turnaround to get into the homes of those in need.

Volunteers are caught in action at our Becoming Salesforce volunteer shift sorting and packing plums.
Volunteers are caught in action at our Becoming Salesforce volunteer shift sorting and packing plums.

Employee on-boarding in “Becoming Salesforce” has made a huge impact and has become a trend, inspiring other companies to start similar models in their new hire orientation process.

How can YOU get involved?

Help end hunger! The best way to help now is to donate! For every $1 you donate, the Food Bank is able to provide enough food for 2 meals. Also, you can always lend a hand and volunteer by yourself, with your family and friends, or with your Salesforce team. Remember, while it’s a popular time to give back during the holidays, food banks need your support year-round! For more volunteering opportunities, check out their website or Twitter.

Looking for more ways to engage your employees with giving and volunteering programs? Check out Salesforce.org Philanthropy Cloud. With Philanthropy Cloud, it’ll be easier than ever to donate to your favorite causes.

Happy Thanksgiving!