Grupo de la Comida was founded in August of 1985 in response to the tremendous need for food in the Central American refugee community.
We currently feed 2,000 refugees per week, with approximately half of our clients receiving a weekly food box. Without this assistance, most recipients would be forced to use their meager resources for food, rather than for rent, and would join the increasing San Francisco homeless population. In addition, a disproportionate number of our food box clients are either single mothers with young children or the elderly; their survival on the streets is questionable.
— thanks in part to the ongoing violation of El Salvadoran peace accords, the increasing militarization of Guatemala, and the continued oppression of Soviet Jews. Although Grupo’s food box distribution began as a program for Central American refugees, today our clients include many families from Mexico, Russia, and around the world. Grupo also provides food to four shelters feeding 120 people daily, primarily newly arrived refugees from Central America and Mexico.
Until the peace accords in El Salvador were signed in 1992, white phosphorus supplied by our tax dollars was dropped from airplanes onto areas where civilians worked and lived. White phosphorus burns people to death slowly and painfully, and it cannot be washed off. People were often forced to choose between amputation and agonizing death from the burns, while the land upon which the white phosphorus bombs were dropped was poisoned, rendering it untillable for an unknown length of time. Even now, more than a decade after the hostilities allegedly came to an end, assassinations by death squads continue. Parents witnessing this and other forms of political and military repression have fled to protect their children from such a fate.
After a lifetime of poverty and oppression, many of the children and elderly are seriously malnourished, while many of the women are pregnant, nursing, or have young children. Children not receiving adequate nourishment can sustain developmental problems that remain with them their entire lives; malnourished elderly are particularly susceptible to debilitating illness and premature death.
Funds are desperately needed if we are to continue to feed this growing number of refugees. Although much of the food we distribute each week is donated, in order to provide a balanced vegetarian diet we still have to buy quite a lot: staples, such as tortillas, beans, and rice, as well as any fresh fruits and vegetables needed to supplement donated foodstuffs.
With only a single paid staff person, Grupo relies upon its hard-working volunteers. For as little as a few hours each month, you can make a difference. The greatest need is for assistance during our Friday morning food distributions, either with collecting food donations at the Golden Gate Produce Terminal in South San Francisco or with assembling and distributing food boxes at Mission Presbyterian Church at 23rd and Capp. Volunteers with trucks or vans are in especially short supply!
We also need volunteer translators, especially those who can translate between English and Cantonese, Mandarin, or Russian. In addition, once a month we need additional assistance at the church to help us with a supplemental distribution of food from the USDA.
Even if you have no time to spare on Fridays, you can still help out. Volunteers with vehicles capable of carrying four to six large boxes are needed to help with our daily food distribution to a local shelter, a task that rarely takes more than a half-hour. Additional assistance is needed with our annual holiday party in December, as well.
Checks should be made out to BACPAJE/Grupo de la Comida. (Grupo is a project of BACPAJE — pronounced “backpage” — the Beth Abrams Center For Peace, Arts, Justice and the Environment, a California non-profit public benefit corporation supporting the role of artists in society as visionaries in the creation of peace, justice, and a healthy environment.)
To donate or volunteer, or for more information, please contact
Anti-immigrant scapegoating has greatly reduced social services and funding to the refugee population; Grupo de la Comida feeds a population that falls through the cracks of a deteriorating social service system.