Berkeley, California (Tuesday, May 12, 2020) – If the COVID-19 outbreak has left you struggling to afford food for yourself or your family, know that there are ways to get bagged groceries, buy food on your own and benefit from specialized programs for seniors, school-aged kids and mothers of young children.
Food banks, community organizations and others are looking for ways to help you. For those who have enough food, consider volunteering or donating. Your financial and physical aid can stretch dollars and expand the reach to more people in need.
Local food banks have stepped up operations during the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure our community members have consistent and safe access to nutritious food. These organizations distribute bagged groceries to those in need, including shelf stable staples, frozen meat, fresh fruits and vegetables, dairy, and bread.
- Alameda County Community Food Bank provides food and CalFresh application assistance to anyone in need, and will connect you with a source for groceries or a hot meal the day you call. Assistance is available in multiple languages. Call (510) 635-3663 Monday-Friday, 9am-4pm.
- Berkeley Food Pantry distributes pre-packed bags of fresh groceries to Berkeley and Albany residents in need on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Pickups are by appointment between 2 and 4pm. Come to the Pantry between 11am and 3pm to get an appointment slip, then return at your designated time for food distribution. 1600 Sacramento Street.
- Berkeley Food Network distributes pre-packed bags of fresh groceries to Berkeley and Albany residents. Open Monday-Thursday 10am-2pm, Mondays & Wednesdays 5-7pm, and 1st & 3rd Saturdays 10am-12pm. 1925 Ninth Street.
Food benefit and voucher programs
CalFresh provides grocery funds every month to qualifying individuals. Maximum monthly income to receive benefits depends on household size, ranging from $2,082 for someone who lives alone to $5,030 for a household of five, with the limits increasing for each additional family member. Funds are loaded onto an EBT card that can be used to purchase food at most grocery stores and farmers markets, or online at Amazon and Walmart.
People who have had a temporary change in income because of COVID-19 are eligible to apply, and can complete an application in as little as 10 minutes at getcalfresh.org.
The Woman, Infant and Children program (WIC) is available to qualifying low-income woman who are pregnant, recently gave birth and/or are currently breast feeding, and low-income children up to age 5. WIC provides food vouchers, nutritional information, breast feeding information and additional resources. Berkeley’s WIC program is continuing to enroll new families by phone, email, and video during the pandemic. To apply, call (510) 981-5360 or email email@example.com.
Additional Assistance for Specialized Groups
While Berkeley schools are closed through the end of the school year, BUSD is serving free take-away breakfasts and lunches at 6 locations in Berkeley. For more information and distribution sites, visit BUSD Breakfast and Lunch Distribution Page.
- Monday, Wednesday, Friday 11am – 1pm
- Every other Friday, Berkeley Food Network will also give be distributing 1 bag of groceries per family
Seniors and Increased Risk Individuals
There are many local resources available to seniors and higher risk individuals needing access to food.
- Meals on Wheels provides home-delivered, well balanced meals to homebound older adults. If you are 60 years of age or older, unable to prepare a meal and have no one available to prepare a meal for you, you may be eligible. Call (510) 981-5250 to learn more.
- Berkeley Mutual Aid Network assists high risk individuals through a variety services including emergency stop-gap funding for groceries, navigating resources such as CalFresh benefits, assistance running essential errands and more. To request assistance, fill out their application form or leave a voicemail at (510) 519-6770.
Donate or Volunteer
With many in our community struggling due to COVID-19, food banks are shouldering greatly increased demands. If you’re in a position to help, consider volunteering to bag or distribute groceries with the Alameda County Community Food Bank, Berkeley Food Network, or Berkeley Food Pantry.
These organizations also need financial support as they continue to provide services in the face of rising food insecurity. Their supplier networks allow monetary contributions to be stretched much farther than direct donations of food. For example, every $1 given to the Alameda County Community Food bank provides $7 worth of food to neighbors in need. Donate online, or enlist friends and family to contribute with a virtual food drive.