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San Francisco Marin Food Bank Finds Creative Ways To Distribute Food During Pandemic

MARIN COUNTY (KPIX 5) -- The San Francisco Marin Food Bank says having enough food isn't the problem, it's that their distribution network has been disrupted. But they're finding creative ways to distribute food to those in need during the pandemic.

The food bank distributes more than 48 million pounds of food each year. They were on track to do the same this year, too, until the coronavirus hit and volunteer workers started to disappear.

"50 plus percent of the people just weren't showing up to volunteer," said SFM Food Bank volunteer coordinator Randy Rollmann.

There are very few paid staff, but something had to be done to get the food out to so many who were losing their jobs to the shutdown.

"We bumped our numbers up and that only lasted couple days when we recognized that social distancing became a factor. And then we had to drop our numbers even below what we normally had, so now we're in the neighborhood of ten per shift," explained Rollmann.

The problems were also in the field. Food is normally handed out to the needy at schools or civic centers, but now both are closed. Now the food bank is using pop-up distribution tents and selected volunteers, including the Superintendent of the Sausalito Marin City School District, Itoco Garcia.

"We were not a food bank point until the COVID shutdown," Garcia said.

People across Southern Marin lined up to get food on Wednesday. Many lost their jobs when the stay-at-home orders started, like Sonny, who didn't want his last name used. He says he is grateful for the food given out by the food bank.

"That food is very important to me because I'm low on funds, not working, and I got a couple, people to support that need it," Sonny said.

And the story is basically the same for each person who was in line, but the food bank is helping people as fast as they can.

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