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Anne Frank

“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”

– Anne Frank

As the team and I have been working with students throughout the pandemic, I’ve been thinking about a precious lesson we’ve learned together: even when times are tough and the world feels topsy turvy, we can still find a little extra room in our souls and our schedules to aid those who are less fortunate. And when we do, we feel energized in tackling our own troubles.

There’s something so refreshing and grounding in taking time off from one’s own individual goals and coming to the aid of those in our community.

I, too, have become a driver for SF-Marin Food Bank, delivering groceries to the food insecure all over the city. I’ve come to learn that 1 in 4 people in the Bay Area are food insecure. As I’ve greeted each recipient with a bundle, I’ve encountered true, heartfelt gratitude. The smile and socially distant wave we exchange show me the connecting power of giving.

Our students, too, have grown so much through their COVID volunteering efforts! They’ve prepared meals for clients at homeless shelters, coming up with new recipes each time. They’ve moved up in the ranks of the Red Cross as a youth volunteer. They’ve raised thousands of dollars for local food banks, organized mask drives, tutored underprivileged students, and taught elementary kids embroidery and piano!

What a privilege it is for an educator to see her students’ hearts filled with love and the spirit of giving. And they’ve matured in the process, putting their own lives into perspective and learning new skills along the way. Some of these projects have become family collaborations as well! It’s been so much fun hearing from parents in our private monthly call about shared ventures! Volunteering can really solidify family bonds.

Top colleges admire students who see the larger picture beyond personal goals, get out of their comfort zones, and give, give, give. Besides academic achievement, little stirs the heart of that admissions reader than the selfless teen who delivers to the underserved.

So if your child is brimming with that giving energy and is searching for ideas, we’ve prepared a list of Bay Area volunteer opportunities for you, mostly related to food insecurity. I hope you find this helpful!

Wishing you a wonderful holiday season.

Shelter-in-Place Volunteering Ideas

East Bay

Meals on Wheels is a program that provides meals to vulnerable seniors. They’re on the front lines, doing all they can to keep older Americans safe and nourished across the country. Seniors are more isolated and more alone than ever. Older adults are unable to see their own friends, family, neighbors and loved ones as they try to stay protected from COVID-19 – which shows no signs of slowing. You can deliver humanity to struggling seniors.

Loaves and Fishes is the largest provider of hot meals to the hungry in Contra Costa County, serving over 136,000 hot meals per year in it’s four dining rooms. When COVID-19, Loaves and Fishes immediately found a way to continue their meals services and did not miss a day of service! They continuing “nourishing” the Contra Costa Community through “to-go” meals and pre-filled bags with food pantry items. Also, they expanded their hot meal services to the weekends at two of their locations, Pittsburg and Martinez. They need help with funding and delivering food during the COVID-19 crisis.

Alameda Community Food Bank passionately pursues a hunger-free community distributing millions of healthy meals to need families every year. Their mission is to ensure that children, adults and seniors of Alameda County do not have to worry about where their next meal comes from. The food banks needs volunteers to sort and pack food at their Oakland warehouse and nearby drive-through distribution.


Second Harvest of Silicon Valley is one of the largest food banks in the nation and a trusted nonprofit leader in ending local hunger. The organization distributes nutritious groceries through a network of more than 300 partners at drive-thru and walk-up sites across Santa Clara and San Mateo counties. The members of our community who are affected need our help like never before – job loss, wage loss and a depletion of savings have pushed many families deeper into poverty and forced others to seek food assistance for the very first time. Volunteer today!

LifeMoves is dedicated to finding solutions to homelessness in Silicon Valley. With 24 shelter and service sites from Daly City to San José, we give our neighbors experiencing homelessness a temporary place to call home while providing intensive, customized case management through both shelter programs and community outreach. Their meal programs ensure that 950+ homeless families and individuals have access to healthy, fresh, and nutritious meals every single day. Discover their wide array of volunteer opportunities!

Meals on Wheels is a program that provides meals to vulnerable seniors. They’re on the front lines, doing all they can to keep older Americans safe and nourished across the country. Seniors are more isolated and more alone than ever. Older adults are unable to see their own friends, family, neighbors and loved ones as they try to stay protected from COVID-19 – which shows no signs of slowing. You can deliver humanity to struggling seniors.

San Francisco

Project Open Hand’s mission is to improve health outcomes and quality of life by providing nutritious meals to the sick and vulnerable, caring for and educating our community. Every day, they prepare 2,500 nutritious meals and provide 200 bags of healthy groceries to help sustain clients as they battle serious illnesses, isolation, or the health challenges of aging. They serve San Francisco and Oakland.

St. Anthony’s serves 2,400 meals every day of the year. Many different types of people eat in their Dining Room, such as veterans, seniors, the working poor, homeless and low-income residents, recent immigrants, recent parolees, and the mentally and addictively ill. St. Anthony’s also provides a number of programs, including medical assistance and a free clothing program.

SF-Marin Food Bank distributes more than 100,000 meals every day. They continue to do the day-in and day-out job of making sure vulnerable neighbors get the food they need and have raced to put new programming and solutions in place to be able to continue to provide food and help to the community during this crisis.

South Bay

Martha’s Kitchen gives out nutritious hot meals onsite with its mission to “feed the hungry with dignity, no questions asked, no judgment made.” They send out over 1,200,000 hot and cold meals annually to over 77 other non-profit organizations in Santa Clara county, Morgan Hill, Gilroy, Merced, Santa Cruz, San Benito, Fresno, and Monterey counties. Thus Martha’s Kitchen serves as a soup kitchen and as a central kitchen that prepares meals for a network of cooperating community-based organizations.

Loaves and Fishes provides hot nutritious meals to hungry and homeless families, children, seniors, veterans, students, and disabled individuals. Since the pandemic began, requests have tripled! They also are partnered with 55 nonprofits at 79 locations throughout Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties providing meals to low-income senior retirement centers, community centers, schools, shelters, transitional housing and afterschool programs.

About the Author: Amy Morgenstern

Dr. Amy Morgenstern, affectionately known as Dr. M, is the founder and CEO of Blue Stars Admissions Consulting. She holds a Ph.D. in philosophy and an MFA in contemporary art. A former professor of philosophy, honors program associate director, and assistant to the director of the Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture, Dr. M brings a wealth of academic and multicultural experience to her practice.

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