I’ve recently found myself in one of the most disadvantaged neighborhoods in San Francisco, helping provide over 2000 meals a day to those in need. Let me reiterate that number… 2000+ meals. A day. Not only does this number illustrate the dire need in this city, but, it speaks to the very real problem of food security across all races, ethnicities, genders, and ages.
Leaving my somewhat safe neighborhood in the morning and heading to the Tenderloin can be a bit jarring. As I sit on the bus and descend down into the throngs of people living on the street, urine flowing through the gutters, used needles, feces in corners of buildings, mattresses on the sidewalk, tents lined up along almost every block, overwhelmingly bad smells, yet, sprinkled with families walking their children to school, I’m struck by the demographics. Most people associate the Tenderloin with an African American population. However, over the years, the neighborhood has seen an uptick of refugees from Yemen and Syria, as well as a high Asian and Latino presence, and many more Caucasians as well.
As I walk into a sacred space that feeds hundreds upon hundreds a day, I’m struck by the dichotomy of those who have so much, to those who have so little. It is not as staggering as what I experienced while living in India, but, nonetheless, it’s almost more confounding. This is my city. I was born here, lived in many different places, and I returned back to San Francisco almost five years ago. I continually try to grasp that there are hungry people, right down the road, not even two miles from my apartment.
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