San Francisco has been sheltering in place for almost six months. The full or partial closure of the tourism, restaurant, and retail sectors prompted the City’s unemployment rate to jump from 2.3 percent in February to 12.6 percent in June, damaging people’s ability to afford food and rent. Elderly and disabled people, among others, have been stuck at home due to safety concerns. Throughout this difficult period businesses, nonprofits and individuals have stepped in to care for the vulnerable.
Potrero Hill resident, Uzuri Pease Green, has been working with the Shanti Project and Community Awareness Resources Entity to distribute 1,000 hot meals a week, as well as other essentials, to Potrero Terrace residents.
“It was a joint effort to make sure that people [were] eating,” Green said. “We also bought hand sanitizers, gloves, masks, toilet paper, disinfectant, body soap, and we passed that out in the community as well. Just by working in community and living in the community, we could see that there were things that people needed.”
Green started distributing food several years ago, offering barbecue leftovers to people walking by her Dakota Street home.
According to the San Francisco Marin Food Bank, since the City issued its shelter-in-place order 28,000 more households have been receiving weekly groceries from the organization.
Almost 60 Hill residents volunteered through Nextdoor’s Help Map to assist community members with grocery shopping, dog walking, and socializing.
Local merchants have chipped in as well. Long Bridge Pizza in Dogpatch has been experimenting with its Detroit-style square pizza recipe. Weekly sale proceeds from “Square Monday” are donated to different causes; so far Long Bridge has contributed $3,600 to the Black Lives Matter Global Network, Equal Justice Initiative, Real Options for City Kids, and Starr King Elementary School.
“We hope we inspired others to do the same even in these tough times,” said John Gray, the restaurant’s head of marketing, design and online operations.
Dogpatch-based Rickshaw Bagworks, which makes bags and laptop sleeves, shifted its product-line to feature handmade face masks in a variety of sizes and prints. Rickshaw has made more than 20,000 masks. Mark Dwight, Rickshaw’s founder and owner, stresses the importance of wearing a mask to protect community members. Partnering with local artists, Rickshaw sells stickers with slogans such as “Wearing is Caring,” “Contain Yourself,” and “Keep on Smiling,” to encourage safe mask-wearing practices.
“People are grateful to be able to purchase masks directly from a local manufacturer,” Dwight said. “I am fortunate that I was able to pivot my business so quickly to address this new and unexpected opportunity.”