Not a Merry Christmas: People Stealing Food from the Needy for Profit in San Francisco

stealing food for the poor
If you want to get your blood boiling, just take a look at the video below. This took place at Glide Memorial Church in San Francisco by a local TV station. It’s the complete antithesis of what the holiday season is supposed to be about. Food that is meant to be given to the needy is taken by a long line of people. But instead of being thankful and taken home to eat, many instead immediately sell the food for $5 a bag to others. ┬áIt doesn’t stop there. People then go back into line to get more bags of food. Some people even throw out (yes, into the trash) the food that they’ve just been given because they don’t want it for themselves or can’t resell it. Just watch the video and be amazed in a bad way.

This is a classic example of people taking advantage of peoples’ generosity to help themselves at the expense of the people who really do need the food. My guess is that anyone who watches the video will be disgusted, and they should be. But instead of leaving it at that, why not do something positive to help those in need. Here are a few things that you can do:

Donate Food

In my experience working with food banks, it is an exception that abuse like this happens, and not the rule. Most people that use the food banks are extremely thankful and appreciative of the help. Most food banks usually have protocols in place so that the few people who do try to abuse the system aren’t able to do so. With that in mind, donate some food to your local food bank. There is always a great need for it, and unlike the video above, it will go to a family that not only needs it, but greatly appreciates the generosity.

Donate Money

If you have some extra cash this holiday season, consider donating it to your local food bank. When you do this, they are able to get the food that they need most. Often they can get it for a greatly discounted price compared to what you could buy it for at the grocery store. In other words, a dollar given to a food bank will often result in more than a dollar’s worth of food from the local grocery store.


This is an extremely busy time for food banks and they usually can use all the extra help that they can get. Volunteer to help so that the food that is donated really does get to the people who need it most. Part of the issue in the above video was that the church probably didn’t have enough volunteers to help prevent the abuse from happening. This is not to say that there was any fault on the church’s part or that it should have ever happened in the first place. Having more volunteers simply ensures that distribution goes more smoothly.

Help All Year

Consider helping out more than just during the holiday season. There are a lot of things you can do to help any non profit without spending any money, and most are always looking for help in a variety of ways throughout the year. Let the disgust you felt from watching the video motivate you to do more to make sure that help is given to those who really do need it.

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4 Responses to Not a Merry Christmas: People Stealing Food from the Needy for Profit in San Francisco

  1. Jo says:

    I have nothing against giving/donating, be it in monetary form or actual items – toys, food, clothing, etc. I do it all the time. But what stops me in my tracks is when situations such as in this post occurs more often than we are aware of, sadly enough. I find this unconscionable and egregious. Those who do this truly need a visit by Karma in the worst way.

    In the meantime, I find it more rewarding to donate my time in the form of volunteerism. It doesn’t cost the non-profit anything when receiving help. But, for those who don’t have the time, but do have the funding means, do your research re: the non-profit and how the monies are disbursed.

    I DO donate to certain non-profits which I vetted first, knowing that my hard-earned dollars are being used responsibly rather than lining the pockets of thieves. Sadly, this sort of thing that’s going on only serves to make those who willingly contribute to hold back funds or items of significance (namely, food) from organizations that truly mean well. I say arrest the b*stards responsible for these acts.

  2. Mich says:

    You would think that the police could do something about it, or at the very least the church that is giving away the food would be conscientious and aware enough to disallow repeat passes through the line. A public shaming of those people is in order.

  3. Gailete says:

    Why do the news reporters stand by and let stuff like this happen instead of calling the police. I suppose their motto is they only report the news and stand by as it is happening, to interfere would not be right. But I have never understood some news reports of things I have seen where the camera man goes on filming instead of lending the extra hand that is needed.

    I think this was despicable both those who sold the food and those who bought the food.

  4. Sem says:

    They really should be ashamed.

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