Environmental & Community Health

Bay Area Hunger

In San Francisco, 1 in 4 people deals with hunger on a daily basis. Long-term hunger can lead to serious physical and mental health issues. Children who grow up in food insecure households are more prone to illness, obesity, and social and cognitive issues (Battle Hunger Bay Area). Programs such as Second Harvest and San Francisco Food Bank work with volunteers to provide food for people living in the Bay Area, but there are still far too many people who are not being helped. Due to a general lack of awareness, those suffering from hunger remain a statistic rather than acknowledged as individuals struggling for a basic necessity that many take for granted.

In order to make a difference in our community and spread awareness, I helped organize a group of students to distribute lunches in the Mission District of San Francisco. After a few weeks of fundraising and collecting food donations, we met up early one Saturday morning and formed an assembly line in my kitchen. Each person carried out a simple task, from buttering the bread to stuffing the brown paper bags. Before noon we had over 100 paper bag lunches, each filled with a sandwich, applesauce, banana, granola bar, and cookie. We loaded up a mini-van with the lunches and drove into San Francisco. With stacks of lunches in hand, we separated into groups and distributed every last one in under an hour.

After the distribution had finished only a few blocks from the starting point, it was clear that more work was needed. Although a one-time handout improves someone’s day, it does nothing to fix his or her constant battle with hunger. The distribution did achieve one goal: we put a face to hunger. What surprised me most was that many people who suffer from hunger aren’t homeless. They’re often hardworking people with one or two low-wage jobs who are trying to support a family. The majority of the lunches we distributed went to homeless individuals, but entire families approached us. They noticed what we were doing, explained they were going through a hard time, and asked for some lunches. These families struggle for consistent access to food, often needing to prioritize rent or medical bills over fresh groceries. Their struggle is more hidden from the public eye but is just as real.

There are many ways to help out as a volunteer, advocate, or food donor. Below are just a few of the ways you can get involved to help stop the battle against hunger.


Article by Joanna Probert

Feature Image Source: St. Thomas’ Church