Dozens gather on Thanksgiving to volunteer at San Francisco-Marin Food Bank

Bay Area

SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) – Before rolling up their sleeves to dive into Thanksgiving dinner back at home, Bay Area families convened in San Francisco for a selfless start to the holiday.

“It’s really fun to help out the community,” Shannon Paguia said.

If you want to know how strong the Bay Area’s heart beats, look no further than this warehouse at the San Francisco-Marin Food Bank.

“We have a lot of needy people, and we’re just filling bellies,” Karen Vardeman said.

46 people, including students from Saint Catherine of Siena, spent hours packing more than 2,000 pounds of rice that will be distributed to the food bank’s 275 pantries across San Francisco and Marin counties.

“Oh, it’s amazing. I have to say, we are so thankful for all of our volunteers,” Gunilla Bergensten said. “These ones, and the ones that come again and again.”

Since 2005, Harjanto Sumali has donated his time here at least once a month.

“People are hungry all the time — not just during the holidays,” Sumali said.
“So, maybe you want to remember that, because after January 1st, a lot of people are still hungry.”

In fact, the food bank said one in every five people in both of its counties are food-insecure.

Meaning, they don’t know when their next meal will come.

“I’ve been hungry, and I know what it feels like to not have food in your cupboards,” Karen Vardeman said.

Which is why she volunteers beyond just the holidays.

“It’s very tough,” Vardeman said. “So yeah, I’m glad to be here in the warehouse, in the background, doing all kinds of different things and helping people.”

The non-profit organization provides 38 million meals per year.

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