Low-income San Francisco and Marin residents missed 35 million meals: report

New data released on Monday by the The San Francisco-Marin Food Bank finds that hunger is still a significant problem in the Bay Area, and to close the hunger gap, the food bank is planning to expand its warehouses and services.

The “Missing Meals” report shows the number of meals missed by low-income residents in San Francisco and Marin – those living at or below 200% of the federal poverty level  – stood at just over 35 million in 2017, the latest year of available data.

The silver lining is that the number is down from a high of 69 million missing meals in 2012, and down from 48 million missing meals in 2016.

The drop is being attributed to slow-but-steady growth in the amount of food being provided to the food bank-- and an overall decline in the number of low income people living in the area.The nonprofit agency says it's encouraged by the latest findings-- but  Food Bank Executive Director Paul Ash said  "the fact of the matter is that 35 million missing meals is 35 million too many.”

Ash said the solution is to build and expand. The food bank is about to begin major expansion projects at its San Francisco warehouse, and facility in San Rafael.  

“Our total food distribution has plateaued at 48 million pounds annually, and even this level of output is a real struggle given our space constraints,” Ash said.  “In order to reduce the number of missing meals, we need to expand our infrastructure, which will directly impact our ability to expand our services throughout San Francisco and Marin. This will allow us to reach more neighbors who are struggling to put food on the table every day. We’ll also continue to advocate for improving government food-assistance programs – especially CalFresh – which are essential to closing the gap.”

The project in San Francisco will add an additional 28,000 square feet of warehouse space to the Food Bank’s building at 900 Pennsylvania Avenue, including two new loading docks.  Work is set to begin in 2020 and should wrap up in the summer of 2021.  Construction on the Marin facility at 2250 Kerner Boulevard in San Rafael will begin later this month and will renovate existing space to better host volunteers and create a more efficient work flow.  That project should be completed by September of 2019.

In addition, the food bank is working with the band, Metallica, to help raise funds on May 20 at food banks across the country.