Blockchain firm Ripple donates $5 million to Bay Area food banks

If you’re not into cryptocurrency, you may never heard of Ripple. But the San Francisco-based blockchain firm is making a big splash with its generosity during the coronavirus pandemic.

Ripple and its co-founder Chris Larsen are pledging $5 million to five Bay Area food banks and kitchens to help feed the hungry.

Loaves & Fishes in San Jose and Second Harvest of Silicon Valley are two of the agencies set to receive $1 million donations. The other recipients are Alameda County Community Food Bank, Samaritan House in San Mateo County and the San Francisco-Marin Food Bank.

“Ripple and Chris’ generosity and support means the difference between hunger and hope for tens of thousands of our neighbors in need,” said Loaves & Fishes CEO Gisela Bushey, adding that the donation will provide for 500,000 meals. “In a ‘normal month,’ we provide over 100,000 hot and prepared, nutritious meals to families in need. We are now living and working in a ‘new normal’ of considerably greater need.”

Requests for food assistance have tripled since the Bay Area-wide shelter-in-place order in March, she said.

Larsen, Ripple’s former CEO and now its executive chairman, said in a statement, “The rise in food insecurity during COVID-19 threatens our most vulnerable communities. Bay Area organizations, such as Loaves & Fishes, are mounting special efforts to help provide meals and combat hunger to those who will be most heavily impacted by the pandemic.”

PPE DONATIONS FLOW IN: Ripple is not the only Bay Area tech company stepping up to help during this crisis. On Thursday, Google delivered 49,000 face shields to Santa Clara Valley Medical Center, which were designed and assembled by teams at Google after consulting doctors and nurses at VMC about what they needed.

Chris Wilder, CEO of the Valley Medical Center Foundation, said Google worked with the health system’s experts and quickly delivered what was needed. “Bottom-line, these face shields will help save lives. We need to keep the people on the frontline of the crisis safe and Google’s donation is helping us do just that.”

Meanwhile, the San Jose Public Library, with the help of staff members and two teenage volunteers, has been busy using its 24 3-D printers to create hundreds of face shields and masks over the past two weeks. On Friday, City Librarian Jill Bourne — along with San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo and Councilwoman Pam Foley — delivered 220 face shields and 75 face masks Friday afternoon to Good Samaritan Hospital CEO Joseph DeSchryver.

The library already has produced 575 face shields and 150 face masks and plans to continue making them to donate to other health-care workers, shelters and other organizations.

But you don’t need to be a global search giant or an awesome library system to help out, as Kevin Tully is proving right from his apartment. Tully, a former EMT who now works at Stanford University, is producing face shields with a 3-D printer with plans to provide them for free to first responders. His goal is to produce 1,000 face shields during the shelter-in-place and launched a GoFundMe campaign to raise $5,000 for supplies. So far, he’s about a third of the way there.  You can read more about his efforts and donate at www.gofundme.com/f/3dprinted-face-shields-for-healthcare-providers.

TRADITIONS PUT ON PAUSE: Even when Santa Clara Valley residents can start going out and about again, it’s getting harder to figure exactly what we’ll be able to do. Mountain View’s A La Carte & Art Festival, which traditionally opens the summer festival season in May, won’t take place this year. Neither will San Jose Jazz’s Summer Fest, which was scheduled for August, or the Downtown Ice outdoor skating rink, which would have opened in November.