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  • Lisa Starbird

The SF-Marin Food Bank and Music: A New Collaboration

Bread & Roses Presents has lived up to its name in a new way! This summer we began a collaboration with the San Francisco - Marin Food Bank. The Food Bank provides the “bread” and we are providing the “roses” with the healing power of music.

Bread & Roses at the SF-Marin Food Bank Kerner site.

Bread & Roses has been bringing music to the Food Bank’s Kerner Warehouse in San Rafael on Saturday mornings since July. Our partnership not only serves individuals receiving food, but also inspires the volunteers giving out food each week. As Covid-19 lingers on, there is a fatigue factor for all, but the staff has told us they could see a difference in the energy and atmosphere when our musicians play.

The San Francisco - Marin Food Bank on Kerner in San Rafael services the community from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. every Saturday. Anyone who drives through the pick-up line receives numerous boxes of fresh produce, dairy and protein. The Food Bank has groups of volunteers who put the food in the trunks of cars with no contact, supporting 400 - 600 families each week. The healing power of music lifts the spirits of many grateful recipients who offer a positive response.

Michael Hatfield and Francesca Lee - August 14, 2020

We are also bringing music to the San Francisco - Marin Food Bank set-up at the Cow Palace in Daly City. This is a walk-up food pantry for the community. Musician Michael Hatfield played music in August on a hot morning for the volunteers and those picking up food at this location.

Producer/performer Francesca Lee joined him for a few songs. One of the volunteers told us “The music totally made my day better, thank you!” Another volunteer was seen dancing as he was filling up bags. A man in a wheelchair rolled up next to the stage saying “Play it! Play it! Yeah man!” It turned out that he knew about Bread & Roses from being at Walden House, which is one of the adult recovery facilities that we have served for years in SF.

Kurt Huget, Julia Harrell and Michael Schwartz - July 18, 2020

Our first time at Kerner, we brought in Kurt Huget, Julia Harrell and Michael Schwartz who joined in during the second set. With ease, Kurt welcomed the many Hispanic recipients in their native language. As he sang some well-known Spanish songs, families were smiling, pulling out their cameras and giving us a thumbs-up. The connections were clear. Kurt wears two hats as he has been volunteering for the San Francisco - Marin Food Bank since the '80s on a regular weekly basis. The volunteers there all know him and were happy to see his musical side. Later in the summer, some even went to one of his gigs at HopMonk Novato!

We want to thank the musicians who have shared their gifts at the San Francisco - Marin Food Bank this summer. Kurt Huget, Julia Harrell, Michael Schwartz, Matthew Michon, Mitch Woods, Tom & Lucas Holmes, Jeffrey Halford, Andrew Skewes Cox, Francesca Lee, Michael Hatfield and Karen Drucker have all given their time and talents. Below are a few quotes.

Mitch Woods - August 1, 2020
“I haven’t played in five months! I am so happy to be playing music again where it is needed most. Bread & Roses continues to shine a light in dark places.”

Kurt Huget & Julia Harrell - August 29, 2020
“I had a great time at the San Francisco - Marin Food Bank and was impressed with the organization all the way around. From the volunteers with the distribution to all the help that made the music happen for everyone… The look on their faces when they saw that there was music was enough!”

Tom & Lucas Holmes - August 22, 2020
“Music is the spirit of everything!”

“What a remarkable day! Five and a half months of pandemic have starved me of live music. I can’t remember such a musical drought before. Perhaps the pressures of school or work at some point in my life left me without live music for a month, maybe six weeks, but an entire half-year? Kurt Huget and Julia Harrell are among the finest of Bay Area musicians and put on an incredible show. The San Francisco - Marin Food Bank workers were soaking up the great sounds like a sponge, and Kurt’s shout-outs to the folks passing through to pick-up food were heartfelt and really appreciated by many in need of more than just food. I can’t think of a better way to spend a Saturday morning.” Volunteer Host Dennis Davis at Kerner Food Bank program

One in five are in need of food and it could be someone you least expect. The San Francisco - Marin Food Bank continues to serve people from all walks of life as they have prior to the pandemic. With the challenges of living in the Bay Area and COVID 19 continuing, many people are food insecure. "Unhoused" or homeless individuals only make up about ten percent of those receiving food. Those who have been suddenly and unexpectedly laid off from work, single parents, people facing an eviction crisis and dwindling bank accounts are all receiving Food Bank assistance. There is no need for anyone to go hungry. Help is available for everyone and there is food for all.

A CALL TO VOLUNTEER! We are in this Together!

While Bread & Roses isn’t able to utilize our volunteers as much as we did prior to COVID19, we have an invitation for you! Through our collaboration with the Food Bank, some of our volunteers are now volunteering at the Food Bank as well.

The San Francisco -Marin Food Bank needs volunteers during this unprecedented time. You can volunteer in SF or Marin at a pop-up pantry, in the warehouse packing and sorting groceries or delivering fresh food to those in need. If you are interested, feel free to sign up directly with the Food Bank and be sure to tell them that Bread & Roses sent you!

Contact Bread & Roses Producers Lisa Starbird ( or Francesca Lee ( if you are interested in providing music at one of the San Francisco - Marin Food Bank locations that we are able to serve. These are outdoor programs where social distancing is maintained and masks are worn by all musicians and singers. We are only booking solos or duos at this time. Thank you for all you continue to do to give back to those who need help during this uncertain time.

San Francisco -Marin Food Bank at the Cow Palace location

In the wake of the Covid 19 pandemic, as we shelter-in-place, we are all experiencing greater isolation and are in need of greater connection. We understand how important relationships and socialization are for quality of life to improve moods, bring hope and promote overall mental and physical health.

We are in this together.

May good music support you through these challenging times.

From the Staff of Bread & Roses Presents

Blog & Photos by Lisa Starbird

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