Over 50 faith-based and community organizations collaborated with San Francisco’s health department to give away thousands of holiday meals to families in need.

Volunteers of the third annual Feeding 5000 event, put on by the San Francisco African American Faith-Based Coalition and the San Francisco Department of Public Health, helped distribute 5,000 turkeys, food bags, gift cards and health resources to over 6,700 households.

“We are incredibly excited to see massive community support behind Feeding 5000,” said Jonathan Butler, director of the San Francisco African American Faith-Based Coalition. “It truly does take a village to make an event like this happen. We are grateful for the continued support from the city — all of the communities we touch will greatly benefit.”

Health department officials said the department is working with community groups to address food insecurity and nutritional deficiencies that lower-income families face in the city. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, the San Francisco Food Security Task Force estimated that one in four residents were at risk of going hungry because of economic barriers.

“Everyone has a right to quality foods, not just during the holiday but all year round,” said Dr. Susan Philip, the city’s public health officer. “Our programs and services are not only meant to feed people for one day but secure ongoing, continual access to nourishing and culturally appropriate foods. Good health for all requires food security for all.”

The health department said food insecurity is a key factor in the widening racial health disparities, as it links to stress, trauma, malnutrition and a higher risk of long-term health conditions like diabetes, heart disease and hypertension.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for the city to give back to our most vulnerable communities. This will make a deep impact on the inequality many BIPOC residents feel and is rooted in social determinants of health,” said Veronica Shepard, director of the Office Anti-Racism and Equity. “The incredible partners that have joined this initiative are taking a stance on food insecurity and providing resources that people can easily connect to.”