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Video | 3 Questions For the San Francisco Food Bank

We asked Elianna Roffman, Senior Program Coordinator of the San Francisco Food Bank, a few questions about how the Food Bank works. In this video, she answers our questions:

  1. How does the food bank work?
  2. How can I get food?
  3. How nutritious is the food?


Titles: How does the food bank work? How can I get food? How nutritious is the food?

3 Questions for the SF Food Bank

Caption: How does the food bank work?

Elianna Roffman, SF Food Bank Senior Program Coordinator: We’re actually on the shop floor where agencies get to come in and choose food that they need for their hunger programs.

Caption: Food pantries shop at the food bank.

Roffman: The first two aisles are what we call the shop floor, and they get to come in. They take carts around and get to select what they need and then at the end, it’s weighed.

Caption: Food Bank food costs $0.18 per pound.

Roffman: The food bank has over 200 pantries throughout the city, so the best resource for families in need is to call our referral hotline, which is 2-1-1.

Caption: 47 states provide the 2-1-1 helpline services, which helps you find local food, shelter, and childcare assistance

Roffman: They can call that number, and give their zip code. And they can hook them up to the pantry closest to them. Because we have over 200 pantries across the city, we have one in every neighborhood.

Caption: How can I get food?

Roffman: I think the best advice I can give to first time users of a food pantry is once you call 2-1-1 and get the name and phone number and address of the food pantry in your neighborhood is to call them directly and see if they need anything.

Caption: Call 2-1-1 to find your local pantry

Roffman: Definitely it’s helpful if you can bring a bag, but most of them will have bags or boxes that you can use. And you don’t need any form of identification or anything at most of our pantries.

Caption: How nutritious is the food from pantries?

Roffman: People have the choice to choose whatever they want. But at all of our sites, you’ll see that at least 60% of the items that are out for them to choose from are produce. Most of it comes from the Central Valley from a program that’s called Farm-to-Family, so we work really closely with the farmers and get the produce next day or the day after

Caption: 500 different growers, packers, and manufacturers donate food to the SF Food Bank.

Roffman: Sometimes it’s what they call “seconds” of produce. So the produce isn’t bad, it’s just a different shape or size that doesn’t fit into the super market specs. So cabbage, we might get a little bit bigger or a little bit smaller than you would see in the store, but you know, obviously the same nutritional value.

Caption: Ask your pantry if they can provide you with nutritional info, workshops, and other services.

Roffman: We partner with an agency called Leah’s Pantry, which is a nutritional programming agency, and we do trainings and seminars at our pantries. It’s both related to the food they’re going to be accessing and also nutritional needs. So those are 6 week 1.5 hour seminars that are led at the same site as the pantry, but not at the same time.


Is it possible to eat healthy on a food stamp budget?

Visit to find out.

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