Experiencing Food Insecurity? Here’s What You Can Do

Scott Wiener
3 min readMar 21, 2020

We are living through an incredibly difficult time, and everyone is struggling because of the COVID-19 crisis. The shelter-in-place orders across California are critically important to slowing the spread of Coronavirus, but they have led to intense economic repercussions that are impacting almost everyone. Low-income people, service workers, independent contractors, artists and performers, families, nonprofit employees, and so many others are feeling the financial strain — be it from reduced hours, reduced pay, a lay-off, or having to care for a loved one.

And some people for the first time are experiencing food insecurity, meaning they don’t have the funds to get the food they need for themselves or their families. Food security has always been a big problem in our community, and it’s getting worse. Yesterday, for example, I volunteered for the San Francisco-Marin Food Bank to distribute groceries to those in need. The line was massive, diverse, and a reality check about where we are economically.

CalFresh, California’s food assistance program (formerly called “food stamps”), is here to help. Food assistance programs like Meals on Wheels and the SF-Marin Food Bank are also up and running. And if you’re the parent of a child in San Francisco, you can access three free meals each day at various school pick-up sites across the city — no questions asked and no need for school district enrollment verification.

Also, if you qualify for CalFresh or other government assistance, Governor Newsom just waived the eligibility redetermination for these programs for 90 days beginning on March 18th.

Food insecurity — and in particularly expanding access to CalFresh — has been a focus of mine since I took office, and it will continue to be. Everyone has a right to healthy, fresh food. My efforts to expand and simplify CalFresh access will of course continue during the COVID-19 emergency, and my office is here to help. I am also currently working on a bill, SB 882, to make the CalFresh application process easier and faster for seniors.

Where to Get Food Assistance Right Now

  • General food assistance is available from SF-Marin Food Bank.
  • Meals on Wheels also continues to operate, and brings food to low-income seniors
  • Right now, SFUSD will provide free meals to all children 18 and younger during the school closure, with no need to verify school enrollment (though a child must be present). 19 sites will be open 9–10 am, Monday through Friday, to pick up breakfast, lunch, dinner, including fresh fruit, vegetables and milk.
  • Seniors, pregnant women, and at-risk populations: some grocery stores are doing dedicated shopping hours for these groups to minimize risk. You can see a list of those stores here.

Want to help?

Meals on Wheels needs healthy volunteers ASAP, as does SF-Marin Food Bank. And both need donations.

If you’re healthy and able to help, go to California Volunteers to learn more.

More information on CalFresh

You can apply to CalFresh through the program’s website. More information in English, Spanish and Chinese below.

As always, reach out to my office if you have any questions. My amazing staff — who are working very long hours to help those in need — is available at (415) 557–1300 or senator.wiener@senate.ca.gov.



Scott Wiener

CA State Senator. Urbanist. Environmentalist. Advocate for transit, housing, clean energy, criminal justice reform, health, ending poverty. Democrat. 🏳️‍🌈