Designated emergency programs: what does the future of Feed and Fuel look like?

Success of Feed and Fuel 2.0 brings overwhelming support from Supervisor Aaron Peskin and community-based operations.

As communities wonder if designated emergency programs will stick around after the state’s reopening on June 15th. Aaron Peskin promised to advocate for the continuation of Feed and Fuel post-pandemic at the virtual panel held Thursday. 

Members from the city’s Chinatown Community Development Center(CCDC), Human Services Agency(HSA) and a business advocacy nonprofit joined District 3 Supervisor Aaron Peskin for the San Francisco Bay Area Planning and Urban Research Association (SPUR) sponsored panel to discuss the state of current emergency programs set to battle food insecure communities in San Francisco.

The program, which delivers food to at-risk seniors and single room occupancy(SRO) residents in Chinatown, is on its second interim, but it’s set to end by May. Peskin’s promise to support the continuation of the program was accompanied by unanimous support from the panelists — along with 186 of the 187 restaurants surveyed accepting to stay on the program post-pandemic. 

“[It’s an] entire ecosystem [of] people that need to be fed [and] restaurants that need to survive that give jobs to people in the community,” said Peskin.

Peskin explained how most buildings in Chinatown are single units with shared kitchen areas, therefore making them SRO residents in communal living settings. 

Rose Johns, Principal Administrative Analyst at San Francisco Human Services Agency, explained the reality of shared housing increasting contact rate was integral to the expansion you now see in the reach Feed and Fuel 2.0 has.

The current iteration, called Feed and Fuel 2.0, was a collaboration of community-based initiatives like the CCDC, government sponsored programs like SF New Deal and the HSA and the channeling of about 3.5 million dollars in government funding Peskin said. 

Jacob Bindman, Director of Service Operations at SF New Deal, talked about possibly expanding their work to other neighborhoods, making sure to mention that the best way to do so was through accommodating their program based on cultural sensitivity and community needs. 

“The most central [thing] is to continue centralizing… people who are closest to harm… People who are struggling now are people who have always been struggling,” said Bindman.

Feed and Fuel 1.0, introduced byCCDC community organizer Rosa Chen, was a voucher program entirely community funded meant to help feed the most vulnerable populations. The program originally worked with 34 restaurants in 2020 from mid-March to mid-July, serving 600 vouchers for Chinatown residents.

The community based program came as an initiative taken by Chen, a local Chinatown resident after seeing her own parents struggle as their restaurant was hard hit after the pandemic started. 

And, even if they’re only on the waitlist, restaurant owners and members of the community alike are grateful as knowing others are getting help is more than enough for them, said Chen.

By Karla O

Karla Orellana is a Creative Writing major and Journalism minor at San Francisco State University

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