Food Runners

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Kid's Stuff

Sunday November 7th looked like a grim day for a farmers market run.  The first storm of the season howled off the Pacific sending sheets of rain hurtling sideways through San Francisco's legendary hills.  Food Runners volunteer Dianne M. did not waiver for an instant.  She and her group of fellow students from Menlo Atherton High School's "Outreach Service Club" had been eagerly anticipating their stint at the Fort Mason Farmers Market for weeks.  "The run goes rain or shine," read the instructions.

Diane grabbed her rain gear, rallied her troops and headed north.  The group timed traffic from the Peninsula just right, arriving at Fort Mason at 1:15PM.  Once parked (no easy feat),  they burst from their cars baring bags, Food Runners "ID" cards, receipts and smiles. Their enthusiasm was infectious.  Food Runners volunteer Art P., a veteran of the Fort Mason Farmers Market run, waited by the chicken truck just inside the parking gate.  Art had been assisting on the run almost since its inception in August.  He knew the ropes and would act as guide and fellow food gatherer to the students; a perfect gig for a Food Runners volunteer with no car.  

After finding each other, Art explained to the stu-
dents how to go about col-
lecting the food from the vendors.  Nothing to it really.  Just a matter of catching the farmers as they shut down their booths for the day and asking it they might have anything for donation.  Most of the vendors were extremely generous, as is their norm, handing over bags and bags of very ripe or slightly damaged but still gorgeous, organic produce.  With Diane's group of ten or so, the gathering went very fast.  The students piled the haul high at a spot predetermined by Art.  When all was amassed, the spoils were evenly split for delivery to Friendship House, Harbor House and Hamilton Family Center.  Fresh produce in good condition is a hot commodity amongst shelter chefs.  Bread and sweets are easy to come by, but nature's nutritious treasures are not.  Too costly.

Smiles abound all around on Sundays when the Fort Mason Farmers Market delivery arrives.  On Sunday November 7th,  the smiles were broader than usual when the clients saw high school students  on the giving end of things.  Perhaps the biggest smiles of all spread inside the hearts of Diane and her team as they drove home knowing that they made a difference that day.  A real difference. They could have stayed home and stayed dry.  They could have caught up on their Facebook pages. They could have texted their thumbs blue all day.  Instead, they chose to get soggy while helping their neighbors in need.  And they had a great time doing it.  What a way to kick off the holiday season! 

Speaking of the holidays...  a major thank you goes out to A.G. Ferrari Foods who donated 50 complete Thanksgiving meals to Food Runners on Wednesday, November 24th. The meals were delivered to Clara House, a family shelter who was overjoyed at the bounty.  Many thanks as well to Chef Brian Healey at the Parc 55 Hotel for his donation of 24 turkeys.  The turkeys were  picked up and delivered by Food Runners before being cooked, served and much appreciated on Thanksgiving Day at Martin DePorres House of Hospitality.  Martin DePorres also received a donation of 60 pies from Food Runners courtesy of the Seven Eleven at 5100 Geary whose manager asked customers to purchase a pie specifically to be donated to a shelter for Thanksgiving.  Food Runners volunteer David R. proudly picked up and delivered the pies.

Over the bridges and through the hills to holiday bashes we go.  Do you know what's happening to the leftovers at the all the glittering soirees you are attending?  Tell the host/caterer/event coordinator about Food Runners.  In the words of Food Runners director Mary Risley, "There's enough food out there for everyone. It's a matter of distribution." 

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Not Your Typical Fare

Have you seen what they're serving for lunch at some of San Francisco's private schools? 
On Wednesday, October 13th, Cathedral School for Boys dished out quinoa elbows "mac and cheese" with honey glazed carrot coins.  Last Tuesday, St. Ignatius College Prep served lemon chicken & wild rice with broccoli & red pimentos.  Tomorrow, the Hamlin School menu features Deistel turkey or veggie tacos with fresh salsa and seasonal vegetables.  Glorious!  What's even more glorious is that when these schools have leftover food, they call Food Runners. 

"I wish I was having lunch at St. Ignatius," joked Food Runners volunteer Bruno Z. who loves doing food runs to St. Ignatius.  "The pasta dish I picked up today looked fantastic," he continued.  "And there was a lot.  I love dropping that food off at the Janet Pomeroy Center.  I'll bet it's some of the best food  those kids get all week."

"My car always smells great after a food run to Cathedral or Town School," remarked volunteer Rita G.  "I'm only sorry that I need to take a Food Runners maternity break.  I'll be back.  With the baby!"

"I couldn't believe last Friday's pick up at Cathedral School," marveled volunteer Ashley R. "there was so much food.  The chef just said, sometimes the kids eat, sometimes they don't.  My mouth watered all the way to Thrive House.   There were two trays of pulled pork tacos, two trays of barbecued chicken sandwiches, a tray of sweet potato fries, a tub of cole slaw and a tray of chocolate cake. Thuy, the program director at Thrive House was so excited when she saw the delivery. Not only did she have more kids at the program than usual that day, but it was someone's birthday.  How cool was that?"

Getting enough to eat and eating healthfully is an education and a privilege that many children in San Francisco do not get.  Food Runners helps bridge the gap by directing all the great kid friendly, nutritious food donations from schools like Cathedral, Town and the Bay School (all of whom partner with Acre Gourmet's Real School Lunch Program),  St. Ignatius College Prep and others to programs serving low-income youth like Thrive House, the Janet Pomeroy Center, Booker T. Washington Community Center after school program and more.  Kids to kids.  Perfect.

Have you been to Arizmendi Bakery's newest location in the Mission  yet? Arizmendi always remembers to call Food Runners when they have an overabundance of their fabulous products.  Stop in at this bright, sunny shop serving some of the best pastries, artisan breads and gourmet pizzas in town.  A big thank you to parishioner Nita S. of Our Lady of Mercy Church in Daly City for calling Food Runners to pick up the leftovers from the annual international feast celebration.  Food Runners volunteer Adena K. filled her car to bursting a week ago Sunday morning.  The sisters at Mother Theresa's Missionaries of Charity in Ingelside couldn't believe their eyes when Adena arrived.

Does your child, grandchild, niece or nephew attend a school like Town or Cathedral?  Ask the chef what happens to the leftover food.  Tell the kitchen staff about Food Runners.  More food to more kids.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Strong Bones, Healthy Bodies

Protein.  It helps us think better.  It makes us feel full longer.  Protein keeps our muscles strong and it won't spike our blood sugar like a Danish or a bag of Doritos.  Over the past few years, San Francisco has witnessed a dramatic increase in the number of people seeking food assistance from  community based food programs.  The soup kitchens  report seeing, in particular,  a large increase in the number of seniors as well as families with working adults not earning enough to sustain basic needs.   At the monthly San Francisco Board of Supervisors Food Security Task Force meetings, how to increase the nutritional content of the food available to local programs is a hot topic.

Enter Food Runners founder and director, Mary Risley.  Mary's done it again.  She put her compassion and incredible business acumen together and called for round two of the Food Runners meat program that she began in 2009.  This past April, Mary called her friend Robert Rosenthal at Del Monte Meat Company explaining that she wanted to purchase $1,000 worth of meat every Tuesday for twenty weeks for the purpose of delivering it to shelters and food programs in need.   Del Monte didn't hestiate for an instant.  "We'll do right by Food Runners," the folks at Del Monte assured.  Hunger in San Francisco is such an important cause.  Del Monte is proud to partner with Food Runners."

Right from the first pick up,  Del Monte lived up to its promise.  Tuesday after Tuesday, sometime between 8-9AM, the Food Runners truck would roll away from Del Monte chock full of sausage patties, bacon, sides of pork, chicken both frozen and fresh, rump roast and more. 

"This is fantastic," Chef Xavier of Bayview Hunter's Point Adult Day Health Center exclaimed.  "I can make a hearty stew with this pork and serve the chicken later in the week.  It's wonderful to be able to offer  our seniors something substantial and nutritious," he remarked of the 140+  he serves lunch to on a daily basis. 

"This is such a blessing," intoned Sister Marie Made-
leine at Frater-
nite Notre Dame in the Tenderloin. "Every month, more and more people are coming," she continued.  "It's been hard to keep up.  The meat will help stretch everything farther."

"The meat really helps our families who are mostly led by single mothers," enthused Araceli of the Iris Center in the Mission.  "The need is is so great right now," she said in a subdued voice.  "This gives our mothers a chance to put something healthy on the table instead of chips which is all they can afford if they can even buy food at all."

Day old bread and pastries are easy commodities to come by in the world of food donations, but protein is a different matter.  Food Runners decided to do something about that.  Mary simply asked herself, "where is the greatest need?"  Her answer elicits nothing short of a big, "wow, Mary Risley.  Wow!"

This past month Food Runners welcomed new donors Cups and Cakes Bakery, Baker and Banker and Casa Lucas.   Many thanks to Oracle and some of the many businesses serving the annual Oracle Convention including,  Moscone West, the Palace Hotel, the San Francisco Hilton, the Hotel Intercontinental, the San Francisco Marriott and in particular, McCall Catering for the thousands of pounds of food they donated collectively following convention activities.  Among other donations during Oracle week, Food Runners picked up an average of 1,200 boxed lunches per day!  

Do you know what your local market, bakery or restaurant is doing with their excess food?  Ask them, then tell them about Food Runners.  Donating instead of tossing their food is just a phone call away.  Food Runners is safe.  It's legal.  And it's free.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010


Edgar waited under the big "Pier 80" sign for Travis.  Travis swung his silver SUV close to the Food Runners truck, beckoning Edgar to follow him.  Edgar followed Travis through the gate which Travis unlocked and out onto the pier.  The hull of the ship soared upward taking an enormous gunmetal bite out the clear blue sky.  The Food Runners truck looked like a Matchbox toy next to the giant freighter.  Travis led Edgar up the ridged gangplank, through the city-block wide door and into the cavernous hull.  A small crew of brawny, seafarers waited by two refrigerators the size of storage units.  "In here we have the more perishable food," said Dean indicating the fridge on the right.  "And in here we have all the frozen items.  We have a lot of ice cream.  Do you need coolers to transport it?"  "No,"  Edgar replied. "The Food Runners truck has refrigeration and, anyway, the food goes directly to the shelters.  It won't be on board very long."

"Ok, gents," Dean signaled to his crew.  "Let's load it up."  With that, the men piled box after  box onto a pallet.  A pallet lifter standing at the ready transported the food to the ship's entrance.  From there, the fellas hand carried the boxes down the ramp and helped Edgar load up the truck.  There were melons.  The were oranges.  There was orange juice by the gallon; cases and cases of milk in individual cartons.  Cases of butter, grapes, fresh green peppers, yellow peppers, celery, bags of onions and so much more.  And that was just the first fridge! Dean explained that the ship carried a crew of 60 and had come to port a day earlier than expected.

 The contents of fridge number one filled the Food Runners truck to capacity.  Edgar peeked into fridge number two.  The freezer load was twice as big. "The truck has to be ready for the Farmer's Market by 12:30 on Saturdays," Edgar told Travis.  "Can I come back for the frozen food tomorrow?" he asked.  "Sure," Travis said.  "Tomorrow will be no problem.  Same time?"  "Sounds good," Edgar replied.  Edgar closed the back of the truck and set out to make his deliveries.
"Food Runners!  The answer to tomorrow's brunch," remarked the chef on duty at Martin DePorres.
"It's my lucky day!" exclaimed the chef at the Lucille Withe Center when Edgar rolled up the truck door.
"Wow.  We really need this," the chef at Hamilton Family Center sighed in relief.

The food from the ship filled the Food Runners truck to bursting a total of three times.  The freezer food included top of the line steaks, shrimp, case after case of Haagen Daz ice cream bars (the good ones with the yummy crunchies in the chocolate coating) and more.
"We come into San Francisco 3-4 times a year, " Dean stated.  "I'm so glad I found Food Runners.  Now we never have to toss good food away again.  We'll call you whenever we're in port."
Food Runners can't wait.  The ship really came in!

Besides the big ship, please welcome new Food Runners donors,  St. Finn Barr Catholic School, and Parkside Lending. Fall convention and gala season is here making for Food Runners busiest months of the year.  To say nothing of end of summer harvest which yields the largest donations of the year from the 13 farmers markets that Food Runners picks up from.

A BIG thank you to Commonwealth Restaurant.  Commonwealth is a  Progessive-American restaurant loca-
ted in the heart of the Mission District. Chef Jason Fox and team craft inventive tasting menus from which a portion goes to local charities.  For two weeks in September,  $10 from each tasting menu went to Food Runners.  Thank you, Commonwealth!

What kind of parties will you be attending this fall?  Be sure to let the hosts know about Food Runners.  Party leftovers need never be thrown away.  Food Runners will happily pick them up and deliver them to San Franciscans in need. A quick call to 415-929-1866 is all it takes.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Zyng Went My Heartstrings

It all started a year ago with an innocuous little phone call.  "This is Indy from an internet company in Potrero Hill," sang the young, friendly voice on the Food Runners message line.  "We need a pick up at 365 Vermont Street, Suite A. "  The little internet company turned out to be Zynga Games Network, the next big thing according to no less than the Wall Street Journal among others.  Indy turned out to be Zynga's Head Chef Indy Roberts.  The food turned out to be amazing.  

The day of the very first pick up, Indy requested that Food Runners start picking up three times a week on a regular basis.  Done.  Food Runners volunteers began heading to Zynga every Monday, Wednesday and Friday afternoon.  The early reports were glowing.  "I loved the pick up at Zynga," raved volunteer Susan Green following her first foray.  "I'll pick up there anytime I can fit it into my schedule.

Volunteer Alexa Vuksich gathering the haul with aid of Zynga kitchen staff
"Zynga gave me 6 trays today," reported volunteer Frances Cuanang after her initial run.  "There were lots of sandwiches, a tray of super fresh green beans and some delicious looking burritos.  The kids at the Vietnamese Youth Develpopment Center went crazy!"

Since those early days, Zynga has expanded to pick ups five days a week.  The little internet company that started in January 2009 has grown to nearly 1,000 employees.  Chef Indy prepares lunch for 700-800 Zynga team members every day.  Chef Matt Dutrumble prepares dinner every night for the 400-500 team members who work though the early evening hours.  Neither Chef Indy nor Chef Matt can predict how many employees may not care for a given day's menu and decide to step out instead of dining in house.  Therefore... leftovers. And what leftovers!  Everyday, Zynga's menus are filled with something delicious and nutritious, prepared with care by Chefs Indy,  Matt and the rest of Zynga's expert culinary team.

Example of Zynga's daily donations
Chef Indy is positively passionate about making sure the excess food goes to where it is needed rather than the compost heap.  Enter Food Runners.  Every day,  in the mid-afternoon, a Food Runners volunteer arrives at Zynga's new, much larger headquarters on Rhode Island Street.  Things have not slowed down at all.  Zynga's donations are bigger and better than ever.

 "The food that your volunteer brings on Thursdays goes a long way for us," states Jane, a staff member at the Potrero Hill Nieghborhood House.  "We serve the children first and whatever is left goes to our seniors."

Thursday's  recipient

Volunteer Dede Tisone can't say enough about her weekly Zynga run.  "The food is so fresh and copious and the Zynga staff is so friendly and helpful. They always bring the food to my car and load it up for me.  The ladies at Jelanie House are overjoyed to receive it."

Volunteer Candy Heurlin put it simply after completing a Zynga run this past Monday, "this is a great run.  Really easy.  Good people." Good people indeed!  Zynga and Food Runners.  Together.  Making a difference.

Zynga donation arrives at Potrero Hill Neighborhood House

Everybody's doing it!  The right thing, that is.  Every month, more and more businesses are getting into the Food Runners act.  New donors in the month of July include: Mission Community Farmers Market, Upper Haight Farmers Market, Inner Sunset Farmers Market, Prima Cosa Caffe and The Jim Joseph Foundation.  Food Runners also welcomed ten new volunteers this past month most of whom were off and "running" within 36 hours of signing up! San Franciscans love helping their neighbors.

Are you ready something really special?  Make your September dinner reservations at Commonwealth Restaurant. Commonwealth is a  Progessive-American restaurant located in the heart of the Mission District. Chef Jason Fox and team craft inventive tasting menus from which a portion goes to local charities.  From now through September 26th, $10 from each tasting menu will go to Food Runners.  Thank you, Commonwealth!

The dog, or in the case of San Francisco, the "fog" days of summer are here.  Are you hosting a big ole barbecue or a picnic this month or know someone who is?  Undoubtedly there will be leftovers.  Don't throw them away!  Food Runners will pick them up with a smile.   Getting food to your fellow San Franciscans in need is just a phone call away at 415-929-1866.  Food Runners can't wait to hear from you.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Middle Schooler That Could

When Brandeis Hillel 8th grader Sabrina Perrell wanted to give something special back, she chose Food Runners.  Ever since she was a tot, Sabrina has been interested in food, sustainable practices, recycling, composting at home and helping social programs in her community.  As a young child, the girl with the soft blond girls and captivating modest smile loved sinking her small hands into fecund brown soil at the local community garden in the Presidio.  As she grew older,  she enjoyed planting her own garden at home as well as growing plants and trees from fruit seeds.  In addition, the ambitious Sabrina volunteered for projects at Glide Memorial ChurchPe'ah Gardens in Colma as well as helping with beach clean ups through the SF Parks Conservancy.

Sabrina discovered Food Runners when a friend mentioned it to her.  Sabrina liked what she heard.  In 7th grade, when she had the opportunity to research a non-profit organization for a school project, deciding on Food Runners was a no-brainer.   Sabrina dove right in calling Food Runners  herself to set up an interview.  No parent intervention for this brave middle schooler.   Sabrina's excitement grew as she learned about Food Runners mission, how the organization works and about Food Runners founder and Executive Director Mary Risley.

Last August, Sabrina celebrated her Bat Mitzvah.  For her Tzedakah (community service) portion, Sabrina invited her guests to donate the traditional monetary gifts to Food Runners in her name instead of to her.  They did and continue to so generously.   In addition, Sabrina volunteered her time performing clerical work for Food Runners both over her summer vacation and during her jam packed school year. 

Sabrina's mother, Food Runners financial donor and volunteer Cheryl Harrison, reports that Sabrina earned straight A's on her report card and has been accepted to The Bay School in the Presidio beginning this fall.  From Food Runners, this soft spoken, shining example of what young people can do,  receives a big, BIG A+.  Thank you, Sabrina!

Food Runners volunteers performed  787 food runs in the month of June.  Food Runners acquired 9 new volunteers and 5 new donors in June including SusieCakes Bakery and the Stonestown Farmer's Market both of whom are donating on a regular basis. 

Are you attending any fabulous BBQ's or weddings this summer? Ask the catering staff what's happening to the leftover food.  Tell them about Food Runners.  Food Runners can pick up from their next event!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

All Together Now

Jeanne and Dexter do it.  Judy and Sheila do it.  Dawn and Dede do it.  Betty n' Barney, Pat n' Dave, and Calle n' Aldon all do it too.  Doing food runs is fun and its special.  Doing food runs with friends or family is even more fun and even more special.  Here's why:

from Food Runners volunteer William N:
My niece (age 7) and my nephew (age 11) were in town for Passover and offered to help me with my food run.  Our first stop was at Whole Foods on California Street. We made our way through the labyrinthian loading dock to the prep kitchen and announced ourselves.  Not knowing what to expect, the kids were a bit nervous.  When they saw the smiles and warm greetings we received, they perked up immediately.  The kids eagerly helped carry the food to the car.  Then we headed to Caduceus Outreach Services for our delivery where the kids got to ask Administrative Director Eileen Norman questions and tell her how great it was that there are special services for the homeless.  Besides being fun, I believe that  sharing my Food Runners experience with my niece and nephew made them more aware that there are simple ways that people of any size can help those less fortunate than themselves.  The kids talked about their experience that evening at the family Seder.

From FR vol-unteer Ron K.:
Last Thanksgiv-ing, I found myself with no-thing to do.  I thought I'd help out at a local soup kitchen.  I made a few calls but was rejected.  Turns out that vol-unteering at a soup kitchen over the holi-days is a hot ticket.  There were volunteers aplenty and no room for one more.  A friend referred me to Food Runners.  The dispatcher promised to give me a choice run since I would be driving all the way up from San Carlos. I was hooked immediately and signed up to do the run on a weekly basis.  My 18 year old son often accompanies me.  He will be leaving for college soon.  We share coffee and laughs on the way up.  The food run is a really great gig.  I do it for the bonding, the travel opportunity, the ritual and in the end, the knowledge that I have helped someone who I will never know.

From Food Runners volunteer Judy E.:
Every week my friend Sheila and I pick up and deliver for Food Runners. We are a good team, enjoying our friendship while helping those less fortunate.  I usually drive and if parking is an issue (in San Francisco??), Sheila goes in to make the pick ups.  No parking tickets on our food runs! Because of Sheila's height, we never worry about the delivery areas.  The food is always well received and truly appreciated.  At times we are offered coffee or a signed card as a thank you along with willing hands to help unload the food.

From Food Runners volunteer Jeanne M.:
My sons, Matthew (27) and Kevin (22) were doing food runs with me from Odwalla Juice back when Odwalla was just two guys in a warehouse throwing parties that included a rug tossed down on the cement floor and people dancing to fantastic bands that performed all night.  Matt was about 5 years old at the time and Kevin was 1.  Both have fond memories of the the folks at Samaritan House offering them donuts upon the drop off.  The folks at Samaritan House used to call me the "Juice Lady." Matthew lives in San Francisco now and Kevin lives in Knoxville.  Though they are not currently Food Runners, I suspect that someday soon, they will be. 

From volunteer Jeanne S.:
I like to do runs with my son Dexter.  He just turned 6.  Running food is a great and easy way for him to experience helping people in our community.   It's a simple concept for a child to understand - some people have extra food - lots of people don't have enough. Dexter and I are "food transporters." It's more fun to have his company, of course.  We get to check out lots of different areas of the city and it creates opportunities to talk about how other people live, how fortunate we are and how we have a responsibility to give help and give back.

Food Runners picked up and delivered 114,040 pounds of food in the month of May.  Volunteers per-formed 838 runs and the truck did 164.  A big thank you  to McCall Catering for the great donations following an e-vent for 2,000 at Treasure Island on 5/13 as well as the Black and White Ball on 5/22.  Kudos and thanks to ace volunteers Jane K. and Sally H., both of whom volunteered to ride along on the FR truck assisting on those same enormous late night pick ups.  

Nutritious food is still being thrown away every day in San Francisco.  Did you know that approximately 160,000 San Franciscans don't have enough to eat on a daily basis?  Tell your friends and local food related businesses about Food Runners.  Helping to alleviate hunger and prevent waste is just a phone call and a car ride away.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Heroes Among Us

When the unexpected happens, Food Runners volunteers are ready!

The message got left on the Food Runners line at 8:04PM.  The message got picked up at 8:17PM.  By 8:26, a Food Runners volunteer had been dispatched.  Pick up arrangements for any excess food generated by last Thursday's Taste of the Nation event had been in place for weeks.  Food Runners volunteer Dan H. was ready.  He had Food Runners brochures.  He had his Food Runners hat.  He had containers.  He had plastic bags.  During the early portion of the event, Dan was to staff the Food Runners information table, promoting Food Runners and answering questions.  Then, as the festivities wound down, Dan was set to make the rounds of the forty chefs on hand to see if they had leftovers.  Following the food "round up," Dan would deliver the haul to the Oshun Center, a 24 hour drop in center for women located under the highway where SOMA bleeds into the inner Mission.

No one was anticipating much in the way of leftovers.  Everyone thought everything would be eaten as it had been in past years.  The message from Food Runners founder Mary Risley said simply, "I'm here at the Taste of the Nation event.  There's way more food than Dan can handle.  Can you send another volunteer by 9:30?"  Four no-answers and one "sorry, I have dinner guests" later and volunteer William N. picked up the phone.  "Sure I can do that," he replied enthusiastically. "Just give me the details and I'm on it."  And on it he was.  He arrived on the scene just before 9:30 and located Dan who was working his tuchus off gathering food.  William filed this report:  

"The biggest problem was transporting the food to the cars.  There were no carts available.  There was nowhere to park near the entry to the stadium club elevators (the event took place on the club level of AT & T Park) and security was in a hurry to get everyone out.  After I returned one of the event tables on a dolly, I ended up lost in the bowels of the stadium when the main entrance got locked at 10:30.  I was, however, rescued by someone in an electric cart who showed me out.  Unfortunately, it was on the east side of the stadium. My car, with its flashers on, had been in the white zone by the 3rd Street Bridge for over an hour!  Luckily, no one cared.  Dan and I split the food and went off to make our drops.  The delivery went just fine at St. Vincent De Paul.  they took the food with smiles, appreciation and all of that through a metal detector.  That's a long way of saying that lots of excellent food was enjoyed by many and instead of being wasted."

Dan reported that his delivery to the Oshun Center was met in a similar fashion, but only after a few moments of uncertainty by the ladies present to open the door to a strange man in the middle of the night.  As soon as they understood it was Food Runners knocking, Dan received the hero's welcome he deserved.  Heroes wander amongst us every day.  Some of them just happen to be Food Runners.

Food Runners picked up and delivered 110,675 pounds of food in the month of April.  Volunteers performed 893 runs and the truck did 263.  Please welcome new donor Gastronaut Catering.  Gastronaut jumped right in requesting pick ups on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays on an ongoing basis.  Volunteers assigned to the run have reported wonderful food, nice people and happy recipients.

Do you have friends who are looking for a way to give back but aren't sure what to do?  Tell them about Food Runners.  It's fast.  It's easy and it's fun.  And most importantly, it makes a difference.

** Check out Food Runners and Urban Gardens
as featured on KQED blogs.
** Watch Food Runners founder Mary Risley on KQED'S 
 "This Week in Northern California" as aired on April 30.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Lunch Anyone?

Have you ever noticed the copious amounts of food laid out at in-house business meals, client meetings, staff trainings and the like?  There's always too much.  There has to be.  The person doing the ordering often doesn't know in advance who likes what, who's vegetarian, or who can't have salt.  The person doing the ordering often doesn't know how many people are coming and even if a head count exists, it can change without warning. Firms can't run the risk of running out of food in front of their clients.  So, the person ordering the food orders a lot.  That usually means one thing.  Leftovers, sweet leftovers.  Music to Food Runners ears. 

"We'll need a Food Runners pick up every day next week," Liz from Zynga Games Network explained into the phone a few Thursdays ago.  "We're going to be busy." That same call has come in every week for the last three weeks.  Food Runners volunteers can't stop gushing about the quality and quantity of the Zynga donations nor about how ecstatic recipients like the ladies at the Oshun Center  are.  Zynga discovered Food Runners just over a year ago and has been donating multiple times per week ever since. 

"Our in-house trainings always generate too much food," Richard at Genentech agonized to Food Runners. "I can't stand seeing it thrown away. It just isn't right," he continued.  "Can Food Runners help? Trainings are usually held a couple of times a month. How can we do this?" Food Runners leaped into action.  Since July, Richard's calls come in at least a half dozen times per month.  Food Runners is always there. 

Carlene from Calvary Asset Management rang up as she does with some regularity.  "We had a client lunch today with significantly lesser attendance than we anticipated.  I have four trays of sandwiches to donate. I 'll bring them down when the Food Runners volunteer arrives."  The at-risk teens at the Vietnamese Youth Development Center after school program concentrated better on their homework that afternoon. Food for thought, literally, thanks to Food Runners.  

"We over-ordered so huge for our meeting today," sighed Joe of Eveo last Friday.  "I have two very large boxes full of fresh burritos, chips, beans, salsa and all the fixin's."  Within minutes, eager Food Runners volunteer Lindsay C. was dispatched.  Clients at Ozanam Reception Center enjoyed a full on Mexican feast that evening.

All over town, more and more firms like those mentioned above as well as Digg Inc.,  Sephora University, Sidley Austin, Beast Editorial and TPG Capital are calling Food Runners more and more often too come pick up their in-house excess. It's a great system.  Everyone wins. And it's so easy.  And it's free.  Neighbors helping neighbors.  Just the way it should be.

Food Runners picked up and delivered 113,590 pounds of in the month of March.  Volunteers performed runs 887 and the truck did  231.  Please welcome very special new donor Flour and Water.  Two weeks ago,  Flour and Water chose to join Food Runners planned overage program meaning that once a week, they make food specifically for donation to Food Runners who, in turn, delivers it to a shelter.

It's baseball season.  What does that mean to Food Runners?  More food!  Food Runners picks up excess ballpark food from Bon Appetite Management Company after every home game.  More food.  More full bellies. Please pass the mustard.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Full Circle

Have you ever thought about the unexpected ways Food Runners can make people feel connected?
Danielle W. signed up to become a Food Runners volunteer last spring.  The first run she chose required  an evening pick up  from the Castro Street Farmer's Market with delivery to the Father Alfred Center .  An ambitious run for a  rookie to be sure.  On the morning of  the scheduled run, Danielle attended a memorial service for a good friend of her daughter's.  Wilson, the deceased, was 21 years old.  He'd overdosed on heroin after staying clean for eight months.  Danielle hadn't really known Wilson, but she'd heard about him through her daughter.  Danielle learned a lot about Wilson that day. He'd been a volunteer, a photographer, a lover of laughter and generous with his love. Friends and family spoke of him as a young man who pursued life head first and who believed in breaking the rules. 

That evening, Danielle was running late for the run and had forgotten to print the receipt she was supposed to bring along for any vendors requesting one.  She forged ahead without the receipts, assuming everything would work out and determined to fill her car as well as her heart which still ached from the memorial service.

And fill her car she did!  Danielle made numerous trips back and forth to the market stalls, loading up two large boxes of squash, five giant bags of basil, lettuces and edible flowers, a grocery bag full of eggplant, six boxes of peaches, two bags of strawberries, a bag of cherries and a load of Naan bread complete with containers of various dipping sauces. The food filled Danielle's small car from hatchback to front seat.  "The basil smelled so fresh and I felt full," she reflected.

Danielle arrived at the Father Alfred Center at about 9:30.  As two young men from the center unloaded her car for her, Danielle looked around at the signs and the faces in the lobby and realized the location was a rehab center.  For Danielle, this brought the day full circle from a young man dying of a drug overdose to a clinic where the folks attempting recovery from drugs would enjoy a good meal from the food she'd just delivered. "I appreciate Food Runners in so many ways," mused Danielle recalling that day.  "But mainly because it allows me to help."

Food Runners picked up and delivered 104,975 pounds of food in the month of February.  Volunteers performed 756 runs and the truck did 194.  Please welcome new donors Sephora Univeristy, Digg Incorporated, Robert's Corned Beef and Gate Gourmet.  Sephora University donated twice a day for a week during their winter training session at the end of the month. Gate Gourmet at SFO started with a bang donating over 2,000 ham and cheese sandwiches that were fresh and delicious, but contained too much moisture to go on board flights.  Also welcome Food Runners eight(!) new volunteers who signed up in the short little month of February.

Does your company host in house lunches or other events at which food is served?  Are the leftovers being thrown away?  Be the office hero.  Tell your company about Food Runners.  We'll be there with a smile to make you look good while helping your organization stay green and community focused by feeding the hungry instead of the trash.  It matters now more than ever. Call for your pick up today.  415-929-1866.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Food or Fare

 Have you ever wondered about who receives the food that Food Runners picks up? Chances are when you close your eyes, you probably picture the recipients as adults, mostly men, standing in line at a  well known soup kitchen like St. Anthony's Dining Room or Glide. Beyond St. Anthony's and Glide, there are many organizations across San Francisco serving many different populations in need. Food Runners strives to serve as  many of those organizations as possible.  For example...

A gaggle of high school kids gathers outside the Shih Yu Lang Central YMCA'S new location on Golden Gate between Larkin and Hyde.  They slouch, slink and be-bop simultaneously as only teenagers can.  They could be your kids.  They could be my kids.  They look and sound like average adolescents. They laugh a little too loud.  Some wear their skirts a little too high or their pants a little too low.  Some sport piercings in all the wrong places and hair colors Mother Nature never dreamed of.  Typical teens except that most of these kids have to make tough choices like whether to spend what little money they may have on food or bus fare to get home if they even have a home.  

These kids belong to the Shih Yu Lang Central YMCA's Tenderloin Youth Development Program. (TYDP).  This comprehensive after school program costs over $1,000/year per youth.  Of that cost, the attending youths pay an annual membership fee of only $35 which is reduced or waived if necessary.  TYDP Program Director Darien Mitchell reports that approximately 80% of the attendees need fee reductions or waivers.

Thanks to Food Runners, once a week these kids can choose to use their money for bus fare instead of food.  Every Tuesday afternoon, long-time Food Runners volunteers John and Marcia T. include a food run on their weekly jaunt into town from their home in Half Moon Bay. After their standing appointment on Nob Hill, John and Marcia scoot over to Le Colonial where they pick up a tray of food prepared by Chef Joe Villanueva especially for donation to Food Runners.  Every Tuesday afternoon, rotating Food Runners volunteers stop by Cathedral School for Boys to pick up excess food generated by school lunches.  Perfect for the teens at TYDP!  Every Tuesday afternoon, the study room at 387 Golden Gate is quieter.  Every Tuesday afternoon, the growl of rumbling stomachs is replaced by the sound of pages turning in books and the click of fingernails on keyboards.  On Tuesdays, tougher math problems get solved, harder words get spelled correctly and more homework gets finished.  Every Tuesday afternoon, maybe, just maybe some of these kids inch a little closer to success because they can concentrate on things other than hunger.

Other youth programs receiving regular donations from Food Runners include 7 Teepees Youth Program, Larkin Street Youth Services, At the Crossroads, Vietnamese Youth Development Center, Back on Track Tutoring, Oasis for Girls and Booker T. Washington Community Center. Regular donors supplying the food that Food Runners delivers to these programs include: St. Ignatius College Prep, Beast Editorial, TPG Captial, Escape from New York Pizza, Amici's East Coast Pizzeria, Justin TV, Miette Cakes on Chestnut and Acre Gourmet from both Town School and Cathedral School for Boys.

Food Runners picked up and delivered 115,625 pounds of food during the month of January.  Many thanks to Rick Hildreth of the Noe Valley Farmer's Market.  During the month of December, Rick placed  home-cobbled, "holiday food drive" donation jars in strategic locations around the market encouraging shoppers to make contributions to Food Runners.  The total collected in small bills and change was $303.87! 

Do you like cupcakes?  So do Food Runners recipients.  Especially the seniors. Kara's Cupcakes donated over 120,000 cupcakes in 2009!  Food Runners volunteers love picking up at Kara's cute shop in the Marina.  They love it even more when they are greeted by happy faces at places like Aquatic Park Senior Center, Telegraph Hill Neighborhood Center, Curry Senior Center and more.

Do you know what your local market is doing with their slightly damaged produce, sandiwches or other foods?  Tell them about Food Runners. With the tragedy in Haiti fresh in our minds, it is more important than ever to stop hunger and alleviate in every way we can. Food Runners is just a phone call away. Encourage your local vendors to call today.  415-929-1866.  Don't forget to mention that Food Runners is safe, it's legal and it's free.