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Asian seniors in San Francisco struggle to afford food

Out of many San Francisco families relying on free groceries from the food bank, Asian senior citizens make up the largest demographic, stated the San Francisco Standard.

According to the area’s primary distributor the San Francisco-Marin Food Bank, its latest data showed that 62% of its participants are Asian, and many are seniors. The YMCA also operates multiple pantry events in the city and told the San Francisco Standard that they serve a large number of Asian Americans, specifically monolingual Asian seniors.

Food pantry and social welfare worker Les Tso told the San Francisco Standard that Asian seniors—especially monolingual immigrants—are often ignored from the public attention and resources because of the “model minority” stereotype.

“Asian Americans are doing well in many cases, but we have almost two million people living below the federal poverty line who are Asian American,” researcher Michael Chui said in a McKinsey & Company podcast. “There’s a lot going on here. Again, I think in many cases, we’re invisible to other folks, and many Asian Americans are invisible to one another.”

For over 10,000 Asians aged 65 and older, census data shows that they fall below the poverty level. However, Asian Americans may be overrepresented in high-wage occupations.

Tso also told the San Francisco Standard about the stereotype that Asian seniors resell food bank donations for money. He said this was not only incorrect, but the food bank also has a quota on how much a person gets.

According to Tso, many Asian seniors in San Francisco rely on food banks because they can’t afford to keep their cupboards stocked.

Sui Chi Lau, 73, told the San Francisco Standard that while the free vegetables get her through the week, it’s still not enough.

“Other people can have fresh fish,” Lau said. “I can only afford the dead fish.”

AsAmNews is published by the non-profit, Asian American Media Inc. Follow us on Facebook, X, Instagram, TikTok and YouTube. Please consider making a tax-deductible donation to support our efforts to produce diverse content about the AAPI communities. We are supported in part by funding provided by the State of California, administered by the California State Library in partnership with the California Department of Social Services and the California Commission on Asian and Pacific Islander American Affairs as part of the Stop the Hate program. To report a hate incident or hate crime and get support, go to CA vs Hate.

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