For every entrée sold, Mission Chinese Food contributes $0.75 to The San Francisco Food Bank. Think this amount won’t make a difference? Think again. Since July, Mission Chinese Food has contributed $69,724.00 to The San Francisco Food Bank!
According to The San Francisco Bay Guardian (September 14 – 21, 2011),
“Anthony Myint and Danny Bowien have created one of the most creative and community minded pop-up restaurants in the nation with Mission Chinese Food (Thu-Tue, 11:30 a.m. – 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. – 10:30 p.m., at Lung Shan, 2234 Mission, SF (415) 863-2800).
Hopefully other restaurants in San Francisco (can you ask your favorite to get on board?) will follow Mission Chinese Food’s lead and contribute to The San Francisco Food Bank. It surely will be appreciated by the increasing numbers of people falling into poverty and not having enough to eat.
According to the latest figures from the Census Bureau (“The Boston Globe,” September 14, 2001), another 2.6 million people slipped below the poverty line in 2010, meaning 46.2 million people now live in poverty in the United States, the highest number in the 52 years that the Census Bureau has been tracking these figures.
In San Francisco, where you can find some of the most expensive organic food on the planet (SF Ferry Building’s Farmer’s Market), it’s hard to believe the extent of poverty: This year, in San Francisco, a city of 805,235 residents, 197,000 of those people struggle each day to feed themselves and their families.
Learning about the faces of hunger helps the rest of us who do have enough to eat every day think more deeply about those who struggle: the older old who rely on adult day care centers for one nutritious hot meal a day (many centers are currently closing because of lack of funds); the working poor; and children who must rely on their parents.
One such child, Jenny Nicholson (MarketWatch, September 23, 2001), says she never could have pulled herself up “by those proverbial bootstraps without government assistance.”
Jenny Nicholson, 32, “grew up the daughter of a single mother who struggled to find work as a waitress and often collected welfare in a rural part of California’s San Diego County.”
They lived in a rural area because they couldn’t afford the city. What else they couldn’t afford was a monthly gas bill which meant “no heat, cold showers, and learning to cook ramen in a coffee pot because the gas stove didn’t work.”
Jenny’s mom died when she was 46 of her third heart attack. “She never got proper care. She didn’t have health insurance, and California’s Medicaid program, Medi-Cal, denied her for years,” Jenny said.
What Jenny did get from her Mom was the desire to succeed. Presently, Jenny is a copywriter for McKinney, a national advertising firm in Durham, N.C.
Because of her life experience, Jenny decided to challenge popular misconceptions about poverty: the result is the online game Spent which you can play at www.playspent.org. So far the game has been played more than a million times by people in 196 countries. Jenny is challenging every member of Congress to play it.
In San Francisco, after Marcy B., 60, read about the latest poverty figures, she was moved to volunteer at The San Francisco Food Bank; during her shift Marcy felt good being around so many young people who for different reasons were engaging in the process of helping to feed the hungry.
Three quarters of the fifty people volunteering on Marcy’s shift were below sixteen years of age. Mark, a sophomore at Mission High School says, “In order to graduate we are required to complete 40 hours of community service. My brother and I decided to volunteer at the Food Bank after our parents told us that some people don’t have enough food to eat in San Francisco.”
Marcy was assigned, with four other young women who represented a local sorority, Delta Kappa Sigma, at San Francisco State University, to weigh, bag, tag, and seal containers of spaghetti. The women were volunteering because one of their sorority’s principles mandates community service.
A group of three mothers were participating with their children, ages ranging from eight to twelve. Marcy’s heart warmed to observe that kind of shared experience between parents and their children.
Besides feeling so good to be part of The Food Bank’s process of distributing food to organizations (400 places in San Francisco), Marcy understood a little of how it is to work on an assembly line. “My job was to weigh the spaghetti to make sure it was exactly one pound. After a couple of hours of doing this – removing a couple of strands, adding a couple of strands – I was tempted to just hand over the container to the bagger even if it wasn’t exactly one pound…you just begin to feel like a robot and your mind starts to space out. But, I couldn’t mess up: our manager was giving us bags that had been packaged incorrectly to re-do. I was glad I had the experience of working on a line – it’s not often one gets to really feel what others feel.”
At the end of Marcy’s two and one-half hour shift (they finished their three- hour shift early because everyone had been so efficient), Marcy was amazed at how much food everyone had packaged: 1,000 pounds of pasta and 3,000 pounds of rice!
There are food banks all over the country that could use help. Even if you can contribute financially, try volunteering at least once. “It’s a great feeling to be part of something so helpful to others,” Marcy says.