Food banks across the Bay Area are struggling to raise money as the year comes to a close.
The holiday season is typically the busiest fundraising period for local food banks, but the Alameda County Community Food Bank, the Second Harvest Food Bank of Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties, and the San Francisco and Marin Food Bank are all reporting disappointing numbers.
"We’ve got two trends that are moving in the wrong direction. The first one is rising need and the second one is a plateau, if not an actual reduction, in year-over-year giving," said Kathy Jackson, CEO of Second Harvest Food Bank. "That’s a perfect storm.”
Second Harvest served 16,000 more people last month than in November 2015. On top of that, the organization's November fundraising total was $1.7 million less than the year before, according to Jackson.
"That's a massive shortfall," said Jackson, who partially blames the election on the fundraising downturn. "Certainly there was a lot of noise in November and it was hard to break through, but we’ve seen that trend continue in December."
Food banks typically rely on the last few weeks of December to make up cash deficits. San Francisco-Marin Food Bank has often entered December behind in its fundraising targets.
“We have consistently been able to make that up, except last year," said SF-Marin Food Bank Executive Director Paul Ash. "Last year we were behind going into December, we were behind at the end of December, and it carried through the rest of our fiscal year."
That could happen again in 2016, as the SF-Marin Food Bank is currently $300,000 short of its fiscal year goal. The Alameda County Community Food Bank is running $120,000 short. Estimates from the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano are more optimistic; the organization is on target to reach its holiday fundraising goal.
'Rich in Volunteers'
Despite disappointing fundraising totals, local food banks remain well stocked and staffed. The organizations maintain strong pipelines to agriculture industries across California and the western United States. SF-Marin is fully booked for the remaining 2016 volunteering shifts.
“We are lucky that we are rich in volunteers," said Ash.
Alameda County Community Food Bank Executive Director Suzan Bateson says their shifts are also full, so the food banks are now hoping to redirect volunteers into the slower months of the year.
"Sometimes we say the volunteers we love the most are the ones who volunteer between January and October," says Second Harvest CEO Kathy Jackson. "Those are the months that not everybody wants to come in.”
To make a donation:
- Alameda County Food Bank: 7900 Edgewater Drive, Oakland. Call (510) 635-3663
- Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano: 4010 Nelson Ave., Concord. Call 855-309-3663
- Second Harvest Food Bank of Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties: Call (866) 234-3663 or email email@example.com
- San Francisco and Marin Food Bank: 900 Pennsylvania Ave., San Francisco. Call (415) 282-1900
- Glide Memorial United Methodist Church: 330 Ellis St., San Francisco. Call (415) 674-6000
- St. Anthony’s Dining Room: 150 Golden Gate Ave., San Francisco. Call (415) 241-2600