Fighting hunger, one grocery bag at a time.
Every day in the Bay Area, thousands of seniors struggle to survive in desperate poverty. Most live alone. The skyrocketing cost of food and shelter means they often must choose between buying groceries or paying the rent.
In 1982, residents at the Mercy Retirement & Care Center saw seniors in their neighborhood going hungry, and launched the Brown Bag Program to distribute bags of groceries to hungry seniors in Oakland, CA. Today, 500+ volunteers make sure other seniors can remain self-sufficient and independent in their own homes. Along with nutritious food, the Mercy Brown Bag Program provides a place for seniors to contribute to their community, stay physically active and socialize.
The call came in: “I need emergency food. I haven’t eaten for days and I’m very weak. I was in the hospital with kidney failure, but they brought me back home in the ambulance and put me in my bed and I have been here ever since. I do not have a thing to eat and I can’t get out. I am too weak to walk. This is the last day I can go without eating. I think I am starving to death.”
We created a bag full of fresh produce and low-sodium foods, and when we brought it to her apartment, her neighbor said, "Thank God someone is finally bringing her something to eat. We try to share food with her when we can, but it’s hard.’”
What is the value of a simple brown bag filled with food? More than just a bag of nutritious groceries, we provide a life-saving resource of hope and strength.
Thanks to hundreds of volunteers, the Mercy Brown Bag Program distributes well over a million pounds of food every year.