Robert and David are both residents living in supportive housing in the Tenderloin and they have each been enrolled in EatSF for a couple of years. They receive regular food assistance from various other programs, but love the convenience and flexibility that EatSF provides them in purchasing fruits and vegetables at their local farmer’s market that are “good and fresh and wonderful” that they don’t normally get to eat. EatSF vouchers allow Robert to buy pricier foods, such as avocados, and that keeps him from thinking that these foods are “only for the haves and not for the have-nots”. David is thankful for the opportunity to buy “something that makes you feel like you’re not missing out compared to the people in the city who are making $150,000 or $500,000 a year”. Robert and David also appreciate that they are given the option of redeeming vouchers for tokens to buy fruits and vegetables at the farmer’s market, since using tokens allows them the chance to use any that are left over at a later time during the month.
Because both residents have limited access to transportation, being able to purchase produce at their local farmer’s market that is walking distance from their housing site, in addition to corner stores that they frequent, is an added bonus and reduces additional barriers to purchasing and eating healthy food.
Robert and David find the process of getting their vouchers each month to be very easy; all they have to do is meet with their EatSF representative, “sign a form, and pick them up.” Additionally, both participants enjoy the social aspect of the process. Robert mentions that being able to purchase fresh produce as a senior and interacting with others when he picks up his vouchers is empowering and makes him feel as if he has agency. For David, “the social contact, communicating with the staff in his building” is beneficial.
Both participants offer praise for EatSF. When asked about how they would describe the program to their friends, David says “I would invite them up to my apartment, serve them some fresh cut peaches, and say that this program enabled me to serve you fresh fruit.” For Robert, EatSF is “like a walk in the park and they hand you your vegetables when you’re there.”
Although the primary goals of EatSF are to reduce food insecurity and improve access to healthy food, we are hearing more and more from participants about various ways in which the voucher program is improving other aspects of their lives – such as removing the barrier of transportation and reducing social isolation for seniors.