SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX) — The San Francisco-Marin Food Bank is serving twice as many people since the coronavirus pandemic started six months ago.
It takes 2,000 volunteers to sort, pack, distribute and deliver the food each week but the nonprofit is getting less than half the help needed.
“Without them, we can’t serve all the people we need to,” said Cody Jang, senior communications manager.
Jang says the food bank is short 1,200 volunteers a week.
Early in the pandemic, the food bank had plenty of help when San Francisco shifted city employees like librarians to serve as disaster relief workers.
But, as they’ve returned to their jobs, that extra assistance ended.
There are other factors as well.
“There’s volunteer fatigue,” Jang said. “The pandemic’s been going on for a long time, school has started again so parents have to be home with the children.”
On weekdays, especially, there are far fewer companies and community organizations volunteering to serve as a group.
Right now, the food bank serves 60,000 households a week in San Francisco and Marin Counties through pantries and deliveries to home-bound seniors and disabled folks.
The food bank has resorted to paying drivers to keep up with deliveries but that’s an expensive bandaid.
What it needs most are volunteers to drive and others to serve at pop-up pantries citywide — especially those who can speak Cantonese and Spanish.
Longtime volunteer Paula Champagne says the time she donates each week is rewarding.
“You have a sense of community and you know that you’re doing good for your fellow man, your fellow humans. It’s just uplifting,” Champagne said.
The food bank hopes for more people like her to become a staple in their volunteer ranks any day of the week.
The food bank says that, for those who may be concerned about coronavirus safety, volunteers work outdoors, distanced, masked and common areas are sanitized often.
Volunteers are also welcome to bring their families. There are age minimums. Please go to SFMFoodBank.org/volunteer for more information and to volunteer.