Ghetto Grocery Shopping With Mo

Food Co in San Francisco

Whenever I buy food at Safeway and tell Mo how much the food cost me he answers me the same way.

He looks at me like I’m crazy while usually saying something like “You spent how much? I need to take you to the ghetto grocery store. You’re spending too much, Ryan! Those guys at Safeway are bums. THEY’RE BUMS!” (Anyone or anything Mo doesn’t approve of is a bum.) I had never seen or heard about this cheap and apparently ghetto grocery store he liked to tell me about so much but little did I know I was about to experience it for myself.

At the beginning of this month Mo started getting some financial help from the good ol’ state of California. Since he’s officially off parole he’s now eligible for some government assistance which means that he now has some money coming in. It’s only $390 per month but for someone who hasn’t had any type of consistent cash flow for the past four years it’s a pretty big deal. To make sure he doesn’t blow the money on who-knows-what Mo gave me the card he uses to get the cash out and we decide together what the money gets spent on.

It’s no surprise that the main thing Mo wants to use the money for is food and the first place he wanted to spend it was the ghetto grocery store in San Francisco he always tells me about. The store’s called Food Co, it’s on 14th and Folsom and last Sunday we headed straight there after church.

Pulling in I could tell that we weren’t at Safeway anymore. The parking lot was a mad house and I was the only white person within a 100ft. radius. Nothing that I’ve never experienced before but definitely the first time since living in San Francisco.

Once we made it into the store there wasn’t a whole lot of difference between what I saw there and other stores I’ve been in besides the types of people who were shopping there. They had similar food and although it seemed a little more out of control than normal it wasn’t anything I hadn’t seen before at a Wal-Mart in Indiana.

I followed Mo around as he filled up the cart and we ended up getting a ton of food. Once we had everything we needed we checked out and I could tell that Mo was happy he could pay for it himself. It was a really cool to see him, for the first time, buy his own groceries with his own card. I know it’s government money but there’s still something to be said for buying something on your own, without anyone else’s help.

After filling up four bags of groceries I took a look at the receipt and Mo was right about it being way cheaper than other grocery stores. We spent a little over $75 and at Safeway I’m pretty sure it would of cost me at least $125. Plus, shopping around at Food Co was way more fun and seeing Mo in his element is always entertaining. For instance, we ran into another homeless guy we both knew who ended up stealing a frozen bag of chicken so he could sell it for crack. I was pretty surprised by this but according to Mo it’s just another day at Food Co.

If you’re interested in learning more about the Food Co I went to in San Francisco here’s their page on Yelp that will give you a good idea of what it’s like. The reviews are amazing entertaining, here is one of my favs:

there are a few rules you must follow to go here:

1. Do not go here after dark, 6am is the best time to go.
2. Do not drive a nice car here, it will get dinged.
3. Do not wear fancy or flashy clothes here.
4. Do not wear lots of jewelry here.
5. Dress down.
6. Do not leave anything of value in your car.
7. Do not go here at the beginning of the month, wait until the well fare checks are spent.
Don’t follow these rules, and it’s likely you will have a very bad day…

There are LOTS of kids running and yelling, and their dirt-bag and/or thug “parents” won’t control them. The isles are dirty, the check out lines are long and slow. I couldn’t wait in line any longer and had to leave my cart and walk out…

And here’s another good one (yes, this is for real).

I use to go here to get more groceries for my money. Someone broke my window out of my car because they thought our dog carrier had something of value in it. Thank god they didn’t steal my Pekingese, who was in the SUV! The window will be about $150. Very bad neighborhood! Their customer service is horrible. Manager didn’t return my phone call!

Also, here’s a video I found of someone apparently trying to steal some food from there and arguing with the security guy about not showing a receipt. It’s worth watching for a couple of minutes.

Yep, I would say that grocery shopping with Mo was quite the adventure but look at it this way — we saved at least $50. I can’t wait to go back.


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1 Comment

  1. Melanie Bowen


    I have a question about your blog, could you please email me? Thanks!!


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