SAN FRANCISCO – When most people might be home with their families or enjoying this city's nightlife, staff members from several credit unions, along with their friends and family members, are toiling away on a weekday night sorting through cans and produce in the San Francisco Food Bank warehouse. By the end of the evening, they will have sifted through almost 8,000 pounds of food, enough to feed 444 hungry families in the San Francisco Bay Area. The food is sorted, inspected, organized, packed and then distributed to some of the 400 agencies in the city that have meals programs. "It's `people helping people,'" says Tony Bayudan, executive assistant at Spectrum Federal Credit Union in San Francisco. "It's the credit union way. "Personally," he adds, "it's knowing that you're making a difference." The credit unions, all members of the California Credit Union League's San Francisco Chapter and part of the league's Coalition Against Hunger, have been making visits quarterly or more often to the food bank. "It's been tremendously helpful," says Chris Sams, volunteer services manager for the food bank. "He (Tony Bayudan) has led a virtual brigade of people from the credit unions to the food bank." Initially, about half a dozen Spectrum FCU employees would volunteer at the food bank on a regular basis. The program has since grown to encompass the 20 credit unions in the San Francisco chapter and attracts as many as 30 volunteers from five or six credit unions for each visit. Credit union volunteers are also encouraged to bring friends and family members to help out at the food bank. Bayudan, for example, has had both friends and relatives accompany him when he worked there. Shifts are generally about two hours. At the end of that time, the volunteers are told how much food they sorted and how many people it will feed. At Thanksgiving, they prepared boxes of food for families to pick up for a holiday dinner. "It definitely helps," Sams says. "It's definitely making a difference there." Spectrum ($90 million in assets, 12,000 members) was one of the 12 founding members when the food bank launched Apple Corps, its program designed to get businesses in the city to lend a hand on a regular basis. "We were in the forefront of that effort," Bayudan notes. "We were one of the first companies that came out." "They were a pioneer in that program," Sams agrees. Spectrum also is involved in other community activities, from collecting Toys for Tots to raising funds for the Children's Miracle Network and the AIDS Walk. "One way or another, just helping the community," Bayudan says. The food bank effort has a far ranging impact. The program collects 19 million pounds of food each year and distributes some 41,000 meals daily, according to Sams. "One of the reasons why his team is so important and vital to our work is because there are 90,000 San Franciscans that face that sort of hunger," Sams says. "So his work is helping to increase the access (to meals) by low-income communities which otherwise would not have access to that." The food bank receives items that include canned goods, fruits and vegetables. "Fresh produce is an important part of any meal, and our agencies and clients depend on the San Francisco Food Bank for fresh fruit and vegetables," Sams says. "Each year, we rescue millions of pounds of produce that would otherwise go to waste." The food comes from supermarket chains, large manufacturers, wholesalers, restaurant suppliers, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and food drives. Spectrum FCU is among those who hold food drives several times a year. At Spectrum, large barrels are placed in the branch and in the administrative center. Food collected at the food bank is distributed through food pantries, soup kitchens, child-care centers, homeless shelters, senior centers and other human service agencies with meal programs. Some agencies pick up the food at the food bank while others have it delivered. Besides Spectrum, credit unions workers who participated in a recent food sorting included California Preferred CU, Patelco CU, San Francisco FCU, San Francisco Fire CU, San Francisco Police CU and Redwood CU. -


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