San Francisco, Infamous For Retail Theft, Opens Taxpayer-Funded ‘Empowerment Market’ Offering Free Food To Clients

(Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Hailey Gomez General Assignment Reporter
Font Size:

San Francisco, a city associated with homelessness and crime such as retail theft, opened a taxpayer-funded Food Empowerment Community Market which offers free food to its clients, according to officials.

The new Community Market officially opened its doors Wednesday, offering “free and healthy multicultural groceries” to the city’s District 10 residents who are “experiencing food insecurity,” according to a press release. Pitched to the city’s government in 2021 by Black Women Revolt Against Domestic Violence Co-Executive Director Geoffrea Morris, the free market project was picked up June 22, 2022, according to city records. (RELATED: San Francisco Can’t Seem To Shake Its Poop Problem Despite Spending Millions On Public Toilets)

“The opening of the Community Market in District 10 is a major step toward improving food access in a part of the City that has historically been a food desert,” Mayor London Breed said. “Equitable access to fresh and healthy food options is critical for communities to thrive and to ensure we take care of the City’s most vulnerable residents.”

The 4,000 square-foot location is open to low-income residents within specific zip codes who receive public assistance (including programs such as CalFresh, Medi-Cal, CalWORKs), have children in the household or a diet-related illness or are referred by a community organization in the Market’s referral network, according to officials. The offerings are reportedly meant to be a supplemental — rather than primary — source of groceries for clients.

The  Community Market’s opening contrasts with another program the city drew criticism for funding via taxpayers. The “Managed Alcohol Program,” allocated $5 million in taxpayer funds, offers alcoholic homeless people free alcohol including beer, wine and vodka shots, according to a Fox News report. While the goal of the Department of Public Health’s program seeks to relieve city’s emergency services by providing limited amounts of alcohol believed to avoid side effects of withdrawal, some have spoken out about the taxpayer funded program.

“It’s not a good idea, not when you consider the fact that, over the last four years, San Francisco spent $20 million to basically service a total of a couple of hundred people … by giving them free vodka and beer. For that amount of money, we could have funded 60 drug treatment beds instead,” Pacific Alliance for Prevention and Recovery Founder Tom Wolf told “Fox & Friends First.”

While the Bay area enjoys a high average household income among metro areas, the cost of living is also much higher than for the rest of the country, according to the Vital Signs initiative, which is led by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission and the Association of Bay Area Governments.

In 2021, 18% of the region’s population, or 1.4 million individuals, were reported as having household incomes below 200% of the poverty line.

The nation’s 2021 poverty threshold as set by the U.S. Census Bureau for an individual was $13,788; for a four-person household the amount rose to $27,740.

Editor’s note: This piece was updated with financial statistics.