Berkeley Food Pantry: A Community Lifeline Adapting to New Challenges

3 mins read
green and white labeled plastic bottle on brown wooden shelf

A Mission Rooted in History

With a history that spans over five decades, the Berkeley Food Pantry stands as a testament to community service. “Our objective is to serve provide emergency groceries to Berkeley and Albany households,” states Dharma Galang, Program Director for the pantry, reflecting on the organization’s commitment to supporting individuals and families who face food insecurity.

Facing Pandemic-Induced Obstacles 

The recent pandemic has tested the pantry’s resolve, creating logistical hurdles that have made their mission even more challenging. “We’ve had disruptions with our ability to get certain foods through the food bank, due to like trucking issues,” Galang shares. The increased needs due to the economic fallout, especially high housing costs and inflation, mean that the pantry is now serving a greater number of people more frequently.

Expanding Services in Response to COVID-19 

In an adaptable move, the Berkeley Food Pantry has initiated a crucial service to meet the unique challenges of the pandemic—a home delivery program. “Although we’re going to have to limit [home delivery] to really people that, you know, high needs, people that can’t physically come down and visit us in person,” Galang explains, signaling their commitment to maintaining this service as a permanent fixture for those who need it most.

Volunteers: The Heartbeat of the Pantry 

The pantry continues to flourish thanks to community involvement. Galang emphasizes the essential role of volunteers: “We always are looking for volunteers who can help us.” From picking up donated food to assisting in sorting and bagging, every volunteer contributes significantly to their operations. Potential volunteers and donors are encouraged to visit the organization’s website, www.berkeleyfoodpantry.org, to learn how they can make a positive impact.

A Snapshot of the Community’s Needs 

Reflecting on the broader state of the community, Galang notes that “as long as housing prices are really high in this area, I don’t see us decreasing our numbers or going out of business.” She paints a picture of working clients whose incomes are largely swallowed by housing and living expenses. Coupled with the pressures of inflation, these factors underscore the importance of the pantry’s work, particularly for clients on fixed incomes who now find their dollars do not stretch as they used to.

A Call to Action 

Galang’s insights reveal an undeniable reality: the need for the Berkeley Food Pantry is as pressing as ever. The pantry not only provides food but also signifies a beacon of hope for the community it serves. For those looking to lend a hand in the meaningful fight against food insecurity, the Berkeley Food Pantry stands ready to welcome new volunteers and supporters determined to make a difference in the lives of their neighbors.

Thomas Lake

Resident tech nerd for the SF Times.