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. 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 one million pounds of food every year.

Need groceries? Call us today at 510.269.9640 or contact us online.

Make a Difference

Seniors helping seniors is the heart of our program.

USDA Policy of Non-Discrimination

In accordance with Federal law and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) civil rights regulations and policies, this institution is prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, disability, and reprisal or retaliation for prior civil rights activity. (Not all prohibited bases apply to all programs.)

Persons with disabilities who require alternative means of communication for program information (e.g., Braille, large print, audiotape, American Sign Language, etc.) should contact program of USDA's TARGET Center at (202) 720-2600 (voice and TTY) or contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339. Additionally, program information is available in languages other than English.

To file a complaint alleging discrimination, complete the USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form, AD-3027, found online at, or at any USDA office or write a letter addressed to USDA and provide in the letter all of the information requested in the form. To request a copy of the complaint form, call (866) 632-9992. Submit your completed form or letter to USDA by:



U.S. Department of Agriculture

Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights

1400 Independence Avenue, SW

Washington, D.C. 20250-9410



(202)690-7442; or



[email protected].


This institution is an equal opportunity provider.