Free and Affordable Food

The San Francisco Food, Nutrition and Agriculture Directory, 4th edition (pdf), published in 2008, is a thorough resource for health and social service providers to help connect their clients with a variety of food resources.

Groceries and meals

For food pantries where you can pick up free groceries and pantries for free meals, call 211 on any phone in San Francisco to be connected to the social service hot line. There are special programs for immigrants, seniors, people with AIDS and other disabilities, and residents of public housing. The hotline operators can tell you where and when these services are available. You can also search the 211 database.

The Free Printshop has been publishing the "Free Eats" and "Free Pantry" charts in English and Spanish for many years.

Home delivered meals for disabled and elderly adults are provided by many programs. For homebound people 60 and over, contact the Clearinghouse for Home Delivered Meals at (415) 648-5592. For disabled homebound people under 60, contact Project Open Hand, which also has special programs for people with HIV/AIDS and breast cancer.

Farmers Markets are often sources of very affordable produce. For a printable list of farmers markets in English, Spanish and Chinese click here.

In the Bayview Hunters Point neighborhoods, the Girls 2000 project called Somethin' Fresh started by youth who deliver fresh fruit to anyone in the Bayview Hunters Point. Call Candice Pierson (415) 822-8091 for more info on Somethin' Fresh.

Food Emergencies

If you know or suspect that a child does not have enough food, you can anonymously contact Child Protective Services at (415) 558-2650 or (800) 856-5553 which can arrange for food quickly.

If you know or suspect that an adult does not have enough food, you can anonymously contact Adult Protective Services which can arrange for food.

Food and Nutrition Programs

There are a variety of governmental programs to help people get food. Check out this new site in San Francisco where you can do online screening and applications in English, Spanish and Chinese for food stamp eligibility. You can also get information on WIC, Medi-Cal, school meals and other programs.

The Commodity Supplemental Food Program (pdf) is a federal program that provides a monthly box of nutritious USDA food to low-income seniors, mothers and children with distribution sites around the city.

Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) helps pregnant mothers and those with children under 5 get extra food for themselves and their kids.

San Francisco Unified School District School lunch program serves lunches to eligible school kids when school is in session. When school is out for the summer, the Department of Children Youth and Families Summer Lunch Program provides lunches at various sites for many SF kids.

Food Stamps can supply monthly ATM-like card to help low-income citizens and legal US residents buy food at grocery stores, and some restaurants and farmers markets. Call the food stamp hotline (415) 558-1001 for assistance.