More than a quarter of San Francisco residents are low-income. Of these, a third cannot afford nutritious food. That’s 80,000 people in a city known for good food who cannot afford fresh fruit and vegetables.
In California, many low-income seniors and adults with disabilities are not eligible for CalFresh (formerly known as food stamps). This means that 45,000 people in San Francisco who need help to buy food can’t get it.
EatSF helps families extend their limited food budgets. Our vouchers fill the gap during that difficult second half of the month when income often runs out. Participants say that the vouchers are a stabilizing influence in their lives. Knowing they will get the voucher, they worry less about where their next meal is coming from or about how to obtain healthy foods for their growing children.
So far, thousands of San Franciscans have benefited from EatSF vouchers and are eating more fresh fruits and vegetables every week.
EatSF helps low-income residents integrate more nutritious foods into their diets. The weekly vouchers are time limited, so users get in the habit of shopping regularly for produce at stores located in their own neighborhoods. The vouchers allow families their choice of healthy produce that fits with their culture and tastes.
EatSF partners with nutrition education agencies to help participants learn more about nutrition. A key element of the program is learning how to choose and prepare fruits and vegetables on a limited budget.
Just six months in the EatSF program – with our combination of education and food vouchers – helps people develop life-long healthy eating habits. EatSF participants eat more fruits and vegetables as a result of the program, on average one additional serving per day, they feel more confident in their ability to make healthy food choices on a budget, they eat less unhealthy foods, have increased knowledge of the importance of fruit and vegetables, and they are able to buy fruits and vegetables they were unable to previously afford.