The line for the San Francisco-Marin Food Bank pantry on May 5, 2020. The line began on Dolores Street and wrapped around 18th Street to the end of the block. Photo by Lydia Chávez
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San Francisco students who would ordinarily receive free or reduced-price school meals can expect $365 in food assistance to arrive soon in the mail, Mayor London Breed announced today. 

The hundreds in grocery assistance will arrive in card form, and families with students already receiving benefits from CalFresh, Medi-Cal, or Foster Care benefits need not apply for the money. 

The benefits are available to all eligible California children — no matter their immigration status, Breed’s office said. It’s being administered through California’s Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer Program. 

The new assistance comes at a time when Food Banks continue to experience an increase in residents in need of food.

Families will receive a card for each eligible child. It will not replace CalFresh or any emergency school meal programs, including the San Francisco Unified School District’s free meal pick-ups at the 24 locations throughout the city.

Families can expect cards to arrive this week and until the end of the month. Families that do not receive assistance in the mail should apply by June 30.  Families who receive free or reduced meals, but who are not on public assistance, can fill out a short application, starting May 22. 

“Many San Francisco students depend on the meals they get at school for their nutrition, and with the current COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve had to find other ways to make sure children and youth in our city … have enough to eat,” Breed said in a statement. 

Approximately 35,000 children, more than half of the San Francisco Unified School District’s population, qualify for free and reduced-price school meals, according to the mayor’s office. 

The announcement emphasized that the assistance is not the same as CalFresh or food stamps, as it is being and administered through an emergency program and it not considered by federal immigration officials to be a public charge that would impact any immigrant’s efforts to change their status.

For more information on the program in San Francisco, visit or call 311. SFUSD families may contact Student Nutrition Services with questions by emailing or by calling (415) 749-3604.

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Julian grew up in the East Bay and moved to San Francisco in 2014. Before joining Mission Local, he wrote for the East Bay Express, the SF Bay Guardian, and the San Francisco Business Times.

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