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Groceries for Seniors at Old St. Mary's Cathedral

Our Founder

John Meehan


Founder John Meehan

John Meehan, the son of an Irish immigrant, grew up in one of the poorest districts of New Jersey. As a child, John could remember eating ketchup sandwiches because the cupboards were so bare at home. John took the wrong turn in life and started going to jail and became addicted to heroin.

In 1976, John had a spiritual experience while he was in a California prison and took a vow to quit heroin and help people in need. When release, John enrolled as a student at San Fransisco State University. After three years of studying poetry, John caught bronchitis, missed his classes, lost his financial aid and became homeless.

While homeless, John enlisted the help of Carl Munger, the principal of Urban High School, to start a soup kitchen called "the Haight Ashbury Food Program". Two years later, the pair founded a shelter for homeless families called "Hamilton Family Center".

After 15 years serving as the Executive Director of the Haight Ashbury Food Program, John resigned and began planning to open a free pantry program for hungry seniors. In January 1999, Brother Jack Graham, from the University of San Fransisco, and John partnered to start the Seniors' Emergency Grocery Bag Program. Today, that program, now known as Groceries for Seniors" provides over 1,000 hungry seniors with a bag of groceries each week.

Sadly, John passed away in November of 2012, but he lives on through the program he founded, which helps so many senior San Franciscans.