San Francisco opens first 'free market where eligible residents can shop once a month and not pay

Food market by is licensed under Canva
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - The City has opened a "free food market," where approved residents show their benefits eligibility card, shop for items, and then leave without paying. 

According to New York Post, the $5.5 million market, named the Bayview-Hunters Point Facility, aims to be a food pantry alternative that replicates the supermarket experience in an area that is plagued by high crime. The 4000-square foot District 10 Market is the first of San Francisco's "food empowerment markets" funding by the City's Human Services Agency.

Those who are eligible receive a Costco-like benefits card that allows use of the market once a month. The criteria for eligibility is limited to people who live within one of three zip codes, are verified social service clients, have dependents under 25 or a qualified food-related illness, and be referred by one of 11 community organizations in the market's referral network. 

According to Geofreea Morris, the program is meant to supplement food stamps that run out towards the end of the month, especially now with the rising food costs from inflation. Morris said, "This is a supplement source for food. Food Stamps should be the primary source. This is a supplemental source especially close to the end of the month when families are facing the pain, especially with inflation."

Morris spearheaded San Francisco's Food Empowerment Market legislation back in 2021 while working for a county supervisor at the time. She is also a senior consultant for the District 10 Market. The market has been designed to replicate the normal supermarket experience, with individuals' items weighed and scanned upon check-out. This will help keep track of inventory and manage supply chains.

The market was made possible through a $5.5 million grant from the City and uses taxpayer funds to purchase high-quality fresh produce from Rodriguez Brothers Ranch in Watsonville. It also relies heavily on donations from other grocery stores for its shelf-stable items and toiletries. Morris said, "If we didn't tell you it was free, you'd think you'd have to pay."

Morris also explained how District 10 Market's referral process is meant to ensure use of wraparound services. She said, "If you're having food insecurity you're having other issues as well and you need to be engaged with the services the city has put in place to improve your life and the life of your children."

District 10 is one of the City's poorest communities and has some of the largest housing projects along with high levels of crime. As a result of this, many grocery stores have had a hard time staying in business in that area, despite the large population. Morris added, "We've had plenty of chains come in and out of the community. Over my lifetime plenty of chains have come in and left."

According to Fox News, like many cities in California, San Francisco is struggling with a major homelessness problem. The program comes a few weeks after some residents were outraged that there is another city program that is "providing free beer and vodka to homeless alcoholics." One man rhetorically asked Fox News contributor Sara Carter, "How are you going to give [some] alcoholic some alcohol? That's some bull!"

The Bayview-Hunters Point community has approximately 40,495 residents, is home to designated United States Department of Agriculture "food desert" with low fresh food availability, and a high property crime rate in the area. In the first six months of 2019, the area had reports of 143 robberies, 129 assaults, 195 burglaries, 308 motor vehicle thefts, and 889 larceny thefts. 

Those numbers declined in the first six months of 2024. There were 78 robberies, 120 assaults, 174 burglaries, 353 motor vehicle thefts, and 431 larceny thefts reported. Matt Ross, communications director for Californians Against Retail & Residential Theft, said, "We know that there is underreporting. Since Prop 47 was passed, murder rape, and robbery increased by more than 20 percent in the number of crimes. Same holds true for motor vehicle theft which is up 19.8 percent since the passage of Proposition 47."

If the District 10 Market meets city goals, San Francisco will roll out more facilties in other low-income districts.
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SF (Pelosi's district in her nephew Newsome's State) is SO incredibly messed up! Food banks already exist. Granted, you don't always get the freshest stuff, but it is food. When you give free stuff out, you promote the problem; just like what is happening at our Southern border. " Food Stamps should be the primary source", said Morris. smh.

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