SF Food Bank's cool new ride will help fight hunger 

click to enlarge The San Francisco Food Bank gave out 45 million pounds of food in fiscal year 2010-11. (Courtesy photo) - THE SAN FRANCISCO FOOD BANK GAVE OUT 45 MILLION POUNDS OF FOOD IN FISCAL YEAR 2010-11. (COURTESY PHOTO)
  • The San Francisco Food Bank gave out 45 million pounds of food in fiscal year 2010-11. (Courtesy photo)
  • The San Francisco Food Bank gave out 45 million pounds of food in fiscal year 2010-11. (Courtesy photo)

A refrigerated food transport vehicle will be rolling into a new home at the San Francisco Food Bank this holiday season as part of a nationwide donation spree from the Walmart Foundation and Feeding America, a major hunger-fighting organization.

The 26-foot-long truck will have the capacity to transport and deliver 3,400 pounds of food per week, equaling 2,800 meals every day, throughout the Food Bank’s service area, according to Stacy Newman, the charity group’s media manager.

The gift is one of many delivery vehicles that Feeding America will be dispensing to 35 cities using $4 million in grant money from the Walmart Foundation, according to a corporate spokeswoman.

Newman said the truck, valued at $140,000, is arriving in about two weeks — just in time to assist with a Food Bank expansion that is adding  nine food pickup stations to the 230 already operating throughout San Francisco and Marin County.

She said the number of free meals served by the Food Bank has been rising steadily, probably in response to the nation’s stagnant economy. Newman noted that the food bank handed out just 31 million pounds of food in the 2007-08 fiscal year. During the 2010-11 fiscal year, which ended in July, that figure climbed to 45 million pounds.

“Many people at the food pantries are first-time recipients, and throughout our area, our community partners are reporting more need,” Newman said.

The Walmart Foundation, meanwhile, is kicking up its own efforts to fight hunger. In 2011, the foundation will have granted $19 million to the cause — part of $2 billion the foundation has pledged to donate between 2010 and 2015.

The San Francisco Food Bank’s  pickup stations, serviced by vehicles such as the incoming refrigeration truck, provide meals and grocery bags consisting largely of donated grains, canned goods, frozen and chilled foods, and, increasingly, fresh produce from local farms.

These fruits and vegetables, often culled from the retail stream because they were superficially blemished, are part of a 10-year-old Food Bank program called Farm to Family geared toward encouraging healthy  eating among low-income families in California.

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Alastair Bland

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