If you could help a hungry person, would you? We have for over 25 years continuously!
President Barak Obama “Feeding America”
Amidst plenty, many are still struggling to make ends meet. There’s a young girl who lives not very far from you whose health and development are endangered because she’s hungry. Not far from her is a little boy who doesn’t have enough to eat because it’s summertime and he’s missing his school breakfasts and lunches. Another family nearby is at risk because the father can’t afford the basic nutritious food that every family needs.
Every month thousands of San Francisco/ Oakland Bay Area residents rely on the A & MW Community Food Bank for nutritious food and social service resources. As local entity providing free food to those in need for over 25 years, we are seeing a significant increase in the percentage of children we serves, as county food banks see a spike in pleas for help. “51 percent of individuals served … are infants, children and teenagers. In the past, the percentage of people under 18 was 40 percent.”
The change is attributed to an increase in the number of families seeking emergency food aid. “Traditionally we’ve seen more demand for services from the western end of the city, but we are seeing an increase in need in the central part, and we even have people from the Hills and the affluent parts of town”.
The Aaron & Margaret Wallace Community Food Bank (A & MW), a 100% volunteer supported, multi-ethnic, multi-issue community-based, co-op organization, continues to carry out its 25 year mission of a society in which all persons flourish as it provides and refers comprehensive services — in collaboration with other hunger, health care, housing, violence, abuse, counseling, senior, youth, women, children, civil rights, employment, and education response agencies — to thousands of men, women and children living in San Francisco/ Oakland Bay Area in California to help transform the lives of people in need. You can download a pdf Calendar of a partial list of free food distribution dates and sites here.AMWF Food Dist.Cal 2-10 to 12-10
A & MW extends these various services and programs to the economically, mentally, and physically challenged; the poor and homeless; the undereducated and undeserved; people living with symptomatic HIV and AIDS; substance abuse; seniors 55 years and older; prenatal women; at risk youth; and homebound people living with serious illness.
Our members, and the people we serve are of different race, faith, culture, age, gender, sexual orientation and income levels. A & MW by providing direct services, including providing nutritious food; edvocating for and participating in many relevant social service programs that promote the self-sufficiency of people in need; educating the general public about these issues, their causes and this partial solution while inspiring a consummate social conscience and honoring the dignity of every person. As part of that principal mission, A & MW works for basic economic survival security for all and the elimination of poverty by providing these services thus effecting societal and governmental policies that regulate the less fortunate to the bottom of the economic, social, health, and opportunity pyramid, with full understanding that any policy which affects the poorest of us affects all of us.
By catering to everyone we have built many allies with statewide and national anti-hunger organizations to support legislation addressing low-income people’s food needs. In doing so, we help build power in our communities and win institutional changes on the issues that affect our lives as we provide fresh, hot, nutritious meals and bags of groceries with healthy meat, fish, breads, perishable and nonperishable food, such as canned vegetables and fruits, tuna fish, peanut butter, rice, dry beans and pasta, at a location near their home that are served to anyone without restriction.
Since one in three children in Alameda County face the threat of hunger every day, and in any given week, there are 6,200 people living on Alameda County streets, nearly half of them in Oakland, according to the most recent survey taken in spring 2003 by the Alameda County-Wide Continuum of Care Council, A & MW has been a lifeline for those who are chronically in need, as it helps alleviate hunger by offering businesses the service of picking up their excess nutritional food, recovering food that would otherwise be thrown out, and delivering it to shelters, governmental, social agencies, and neighborhood feeding programs. We as a team can significantly effect change in the lives of the destitute and homeless. Together we can touch real lives, introduce real hope and provide tools for our clients to make real changes in their lives. It’s about touching one life at a time.
We collect frequently needed items such as hygiene kits, clothing, school supplies, toys, infant care items, household products, etc., and the donated food from growers, manufacturers, distributors, food brokers, producers, retailers and grocers, then redistribute it to people in need through food pantries, soup kitchens, child care centers, local hospitals, homeless shelters, senior centers, neighborhood centers, churches, public parks, and other human service agencies with free food and meal programs– all of which, in turn, feed hungry people in each and every town throughout greater San Francisco/Oakland Bay Area. We supply many of the popular food and clothing programs in the area including St, Vincent de Paul, the Salvation Army, City Team Ministries, GRIP, the County Food Bank and Mother Wright. A & MW also provides food directly to people in need. When people contact A & MW looking for assistance, they are provided food directly as we will package and deliver groceries to those living on the edge of hunger or referred to a local program right in their local neighborhood.The donation of your food is a tax deductible write-off for the businesses and donors are protected from liability under the 1996 Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act. Currently, we do not accept food from the food service and hospitality industries such as restaurants, cafeterias, hotels, caterers, home gardeners or food from federal programs. A true “win-win” situation for all involved!
We also have provided numerous organizations with specialty gourmet food items for religious, ethnic or cultural theme based events or fundraisers such as Cinco de Mayo, Chinese New Years, Christmas, Juneteenth, July 4, Hanukka-Yom Kippur, Eid, Labor Day, etc.
There are still many misconceptions about free food programs. These aren’t the soup lines of the past. “The government cheese doesn’t exist anymore”. The food programs now relies on retailers like Trader Joes and various farmers’ markets for fresh produce and even frozen meat and fish. The system works out for retailers. “Rather than marking it down, they get to right off the whole amount.”
While Good Samaritans like the Boy Scouts of America and U.S. Postal Service employees still collect canned goods for the food bank, the amount of canned goods donated by manufacturers and stores is dwindling. This is partly due to better quality control and fewer labeling errors in canneries, and also because of the growth of discount retailers like Berkeley-based Grocery Outlet that offer products like dented or scratched cans that used to go to food pantries.
In Alameda County as a whole, participation in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Stamp program is up 19.2 percent over a year ago. Officials attribute the rise to better outreach, along with increased need. “We’re definitely seeing more people, a lot of working people”, “Our clients are having a harder time paying their rents. We’re seeing a lot of younger people in their mid 20s; people starting families.” Last year 83,645 people were receiving monthly food stamps, about 60 percent of those eligible. The county set up a hotline for food assistance at (800) 870-3663, which will refer callers to food pantries and help people apply for food stamps. A family of four could have a monthly gross income of up to $2,167 and still be eligible. The figure will rise to $2,238 in October.
“A lot of folks use it not only to prevent themselves from going hungry, but also as a way to manage their limited income so there is money left for shoes, dentists or utility bills”.
Many children and families rely on school free lunch and institutional “Soup Kitchen” dinner programs. Summer vacation can mean the end to their only nutritious meal of the day. We are working hard to provide people with the nutritious food that they need daily and to promote awareness about the free lunch and dinner sites available throughout the county. Let’s work together to close the food, free lunch and dinner gap and make a difference in the lives of all people in our community!
Our teams bag groceries, make lunches, collect clothing and other items, and hit the streets of the Bay Area in search of our friends sleeping outside. By sharing a meal, giving out food, warm clothing- coats and socks, advice, invaluable assistance, and getting to know these men and women, the teams build bridges for life transformation.
Part of our mission is to address in a positive way the issues of:
HUNGER PREVENTS HEALTHY EATING AMONG SENIORS
A Summary of Findings from Focus Groups with Low-income Seniors (August 2004)
In focus groups conducted with over 80 seniors at Oakland Senior Centers, it was found that very low-income seniors were not serviced nor as prepared to use information provided in nutrition education classes as seniors with incomes above the poverty level. This was true even though seniors living below the poverty rate were more likely to suffer from diet-related diseases like diabetes and high blood pressure that could be alleviated with better nutrition. While the seniors interviewed in the focus groups were all concerned about their health and nutrition, seniors who lived below the poverty line were unable to act on their concern because their low incomes prevented them from doing so.
A Study of Hunger and Food Insecurity Among Elderly Brown Bag Program Participants in Alameda County (May 2003)
About 40,000 low-income California seniors depend on the nutrition provided by the Senior Brown Bag Program.
FINDING THE GAPS IN CHILD NUTRITION
A Report on the Summer Food Service Program in Alameda County (June 2003)
Despite an overwhelming need, only 16 percent of eligible Alameda County children participate in the Summer Food Service Program. This report, produced by the Alameda County Department of Public Health, explores the summer lunch program in Alameda County and makes recommendations for addressing summer hunger.
How does hunger affect people?
Although we do not see starvation in the United States, hunger and malnutrition still have significant consequences:
* Malnourished pregnant women are more likely to have stillborn or low birth weight babies
* Inadequately nourished infants and children are apt to have learning problems and more illnesses
* Adults who are hungry are less energetic and productive, making it difficult to find and keep a job or care for children
* Malnourished elderly persons are less able to prevent illness and enjoy good health
Hunger is a symptom of the complex problem of poverty. Almost half of hungry households have someone who is employed. There is no lack of food in the US — only an inequitable distribution system due to cost of living, lack of supermarkets in poor neighborhoods, and bureaucracy standing between the hungry and help from government programs.
Your donations help provide low-income families and individuals with emergency food assistance and the most invaluable resource of all, hope. Your donations are also tax deductible to the extent of the law. Together we can help the hungry, destitute, homeless, underserved people who are counting on the Aaron & Margaret Wallace Community Food Bank (A & MW)… and you… please be as generous as possible. Thanks!