The San Francisco-Marin Food Bank said this week that it has seen a recent decrease in volunteers, putting the status of its coronavirus pandemic response programs at risk.
The food bank requires some 2,000 volunteers per week to serve its client base, which has doubled since the pandemic began in March.
The food bank has opened 29 pop-up food pantries and launched a program to deliver groceries to seniors who are sheltering in place during the pandemic, but may have to scale back those programs if it continues to fill only around half of its volunteer slots.
“Volunteers are the backbone of our operation, without them many families would be forced to choose between buying food or other essential needs,” said Cody Jang, the food bank’s senior community engagement manager.
While the food bank saw a large outpouring of volunteer support shortly after the pandemic began, the organization argued pandemic fatigue and the Bay Area’s gradual reopening of various businesses has shrunk its pool of potential volunteers.
Individual residents and organizations are both encouraged to volunteer, either at one of the food bank’s pop-up pantries or at its San Francisco and Marin warehouses.
Volunteers must be at least 15 years old to work at a pop-up pantry, according to the organization. They must also be 11 to work at the Marin warehouse and at the San Francisco warehouse on weekdays.
Children as young as 4 years old are welcome to volunteer on weekends, provided that they are accompanied by their parents.
Residents can sign up to volunteer at sfmfoodbank.org/volunteer.