Help for the hungry in San Francisco

By Ed Nicholson

Every time I visit a food bank, I’m impressed and inspired by people who are taking limited and continually-taxed resources and working miracles with them.  Yesterday, I had the pleasure of visiting the San Francisco Food Bank to donate a truckload of chicken, made as part of the Tyson commitment you the readers of this blog made possible by commenting on this post about hunger in the Bay Area.  I’m pleased to announce that since the effort began, Tyson has delivered more than 300,000 pounds of food to Bay Area food banks.  
The San Francisco Food Bank is a truly innovative, inspiring organization. In addition to serving more than 200 independent agencies, they’ve also created a network of distrubtion points, strategically-located to fill gaps where need exists, providing fresh produce acquired in collaboration with producers around the state.
Paul Ash, seen in the attached video, is the food bank’s executive director, and has served the food bank for 19 years,  Paul has a keen insight into the state of hunger in and beyond his own community. 
On a personal note, it was a true pleasure meeting Amy Sherman, Faith Kramer and Gayle Keck, part of the Hunger Challenge group that made this effort possible, as well as Paul, John Curry (SFFB food resources manager), and the rest of the great group from the food bank.  
Another phenomenal group working in the trenches in the fight against hunger.



Faith Kramer, Amy Sherman, Gayle Keck, Paul Ash



Thanks! Bay Area Hunger Challenge Effort Reaches 200,000 Pound Goal!

By Ed Nicholson

As of this morning, more than 2000 comments had been submitted in the read-and-comment-for-food effort to benefit Bay Area Food Banks, meaning all 200,000 pounds of food committed to the effort will be delivered.  In fact, some has already made its way to the food banks, and more will be delivered in coming weeks.

We continue to be humbled by and grateful to the efforts of people who take personal action against hunger in our country.  We’re especially grateful to the Hunger Challenge bloggers who got this effort flying in the Bay Area.  Additionally, thanks to those who picked up the ball and ran with it, not just in California, but across the country.

We appreciate the hundreds of Twitter messages and re-tweets that kept this at the forefront of awareness.

Finally, and most importantly, thanks to those who came to the blog posting, read about hunger, and took action by commenting.  You truly have made a difference.

While 200,000 pounds sounds like a lot of food–and is–it is only a drop in bucket compared to what’s needed to address the hunger needs in the Bay Area.  Our challenge to you is to stay involved. Don’t let your good work stop here. Donate your time, your energy and your resources to a food bank in your area, no matter where you are.  

We’ll have a more comprehensive blog post later, listing as many of those of whom we’ve been made aware who contributed by blogging, tweeting, and spreading the word.  Until then, know that you all have our heartfelt congratulations and thanks for making this effort a stellar example of the online community taking positive action.

Hunger in the Bay Area – and How You Can Help


Hunger is a serious problem in the Bay Area…
• Nearly 1.2 million people in the Bay Area (Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Solano, Sonoma and Santa Cruz counties) are living near the poverty line, at risk of going hungry. According to census figures, these people are making less than $26,000 for a family of 3.
• The California Budget Project estimates that a family needs to make more than twice that amount – at least $53,000 – in order to make ends meet in the Bay Area. People who can’t get by often give up food to pay for vital expenses like medicine, or fixed expenses like rent.
• 50% of the people Bay Area food banks serve are children – and many live in working poor families.

The current economy is making things even worse…
• In addition to the region’s high cost of living, food and fuel prices have skyrocketed over the past year. Higher food and energy prices have put many more families into crisis, and they’ve had to turn to Food Banks to get the basics. Seniors on fixed incomes have been severely impacted, too.
• Nationally, eggs have increased 34% and white bread 15%, while milk prices in California have climbed 30% in the past year.  According to the Bureau of Labor statistics, gasoline prices in the Bay Area have gone up 36.4% in the past year.
• On top of dramatically higher food prices, the economic downturn has put even more families at risk of going hungry. All six Bay Area food banks are seeing increased numbers of clients in need, with longer lines at our grocery pantries. People often stand in line for hours to get food.

Government resources have been cut, making private donations crucial…
• Allotments of basic foods like rice, beans, and protein items from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to Bay Area food banks have dropped 50% in the last 5 years – from over 14 million pounds in 2003 to just 7 million in 2008.

How the 6 Bay Area food banks help…

• Every day, Bay Area food banks source, collect, sort, inspect and repackage hundreds of thousands of pounds of food. The food comes from supermarket chains, large manufacturers, wholesalers, produce packers and growers, restaurant suppliers, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and food drives.
• Last year Bay Area Food banks distributed 96 million pounds of food into their communities, this year they are distributing over 102 million pounds of food – up more than 6%.
• This year Bay Area Food banks will distribute enough food for 219,000 meals every day. It goes out to neighborhood grocery pantries, soup kitchens, programs that serve homebound seniors, and more.

Here’s how you can help…
• For every comment this post receives indicating it has been read, Tyson Foods will donate 100 pounds of high-quality protein (up to a total of 200,000 pounds) to the six Bay Area food banks. Help us fill the trucks! Comment here (even one-word comments acceptable. One comment per visitor, please.  NOTE: Since our comments are moderated, it might take a bit to get them up, but we WILL get them up). To prevent spam, the comment form asks for an email address. Tyson will NOT harvest these emails or use them in any way whatsoever.

• Visit the website of your nearest food bank to learn more about how you can donate, volunteer and advocate to help end hunger where you live:
San Francisco Food Bank
Alameda Community Food Bank
Food Bank of Contra Costa & Solano
Second Harvest Food Bank of Santa Clara & San Mateo Counties
Second Harvest Food Bank of Santa Cruz & San Benito Counties
Redwood Empire Food Bank
Many thanks to the Bay Area food bloggers who took on the San Francisco Food Bank’s Hunger Challenge. Without the attention they brought to this issue, Tyson’s donation would not have happened.

UPDATE!!!! As of Thursday, Oct. 2, less than one week after we began the effort, we reached our goal of 2000 comments, meaning ALL 200,000 pounds will be delivered to Bay Area Food Banks!  In fact, as of this writing, some of the food has already been delivered.  THANKS FOR ALL OF YOUR EFFORTS!


Since 2000, Tyson Foods has been actively involved in the fight against hunger, contributing more than 53 million pounds of food to hunger and disaster relief.  This site will tell you more about the company’s ongoing efforts. 

This just in: We’ve had quite a few requests from commenters that we send some vegetarian items.  While we’re primarily a  meat protein company, we do make pizza crust.  We’re sending along  a bit of that.