In an email sent to all employees of the San Francisco-Marin Food Bank on Thursday, Executive Director Tanis Crosby said that Mayor London Breed has recommended curtailing funding for the organization by 2025.
For the fiscal year of 2024, the mayor has cut funding to the city’s overall grocery programs by $10 million to $20 million, an email from Crosby warns. And, she adds in the email, the city’s food security budget will drop by another $10 million the following year, with a recommendation of “zero funding” for the Food Bank in 2025.
This includes a currently proposed $4 million cut to the city’s $10 million funding for the Food Bank, according to the email from Crosby. The Food Bank is facing an $8 million deficit next year, she added.
“We vehemently disagree with Mayor Breed’s budgetary decisions,” Crosby wrote in her email, going on to say that “the stark reality is, the current hunger crisis will only worsen, if local resources are not prioritized to prevent the Food Bank and its community partners from having to reduce critical anti-hunger services that serve thousands of low-income San Franciscans.”
The mayor’s office responded that the current budget invests $40 million to combat food security over the next two years. “Mayor Breed has delivered a balanced budget that maintains essential services for the City, building on her top priorities while closing a significant deficit,” the office said in an email.
According to the Food Bank, their staff hands out food for some 150,000 meals daily to hungry San Franciscans. They operate a host of programs, signing people up for the state’s CalFresh food stamp program, running food pantries across the city and Marin and delivering food to thousands of households weekly.
A Food Bank worker, who preferred to remain anonymous, said the organization will have to make significant reductions, like ensuring only one person per household is enrolled at a food pantry, and helping some of the 13,000 people who depend on home-delivery programs transition to walk-up grocery sites.
“We’re downsizing,” said the worker. “But we have so many talented, smart people here,” and they are working overtime to ensure those currently served by the Food Bank will stay fed.”
Much of the city’s Food Bank funding supported emergency programs set up during the pandemic, when tens of thousands of people enrolled in state and local programs.
Though budgets nationally are returning to 2019 numbers, rates of hunger have not: 30 percent of San Francisco families with children report food insecurity, according to the city.
And participation in Food Bank programs is 74 percent higher than in 2019, according to the Food Bank, serving nearly 60,000 families. The cost of food supplied to those families is also three times higher than it was pre-pandemic, the Food Bank says.
In April, Mission Local reported that, in anticipation of steep cuts, Food Bank staff closed their pantries to new applicants and started shifting people from imperiled programs to others with more stable funding.
For the next several months, the city will hear feedback on budget priorities. In Crosby’s email, she stressed that staff will be campaigning throughout this review period for a budget that places more emphasis on hungry residents.