Food Runners

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Hot Diggity Dog!

It's yellow. It's orange.  It's sleek.  It's funny.  It's the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile. Did you happen to notice it driving around town on Friday, November 18th?  It wasn't selling wieners or other Kraft products that day.  It was doing food runs for Food Runners: picking up excess food from businesses and delivering it to agencies serving those in need.  Good deeds come in all kinds of packages.


Traci called the week before. She and the Wienermobile were to be in San Francisco for a day and she wanted to do something special.  She found Food Runners on the internet and she picked up the phone.  Food Runners did the happy dance upon receiving her call.  Volunteers are always welcome, especially the Friday before Thanksgiving when many of the regulars are on their way out of town.  A chat and a few email instructions later and the fun began.

First stop:  Veteran's Equity Center.  Every Friday, Veteran's Equity donates fresh produce leftover from their Thursday evening food pantry.  Sometimes, pantry clients take all the food.  Most times, they don't.  Enter Food Runners. Enter Traci, her partner Yoli and the funny car.  


Food on board, the Weinermobile headed over to St. Gregory's Church in the Potrero district to make the delivery.  The folks at St. Greg's scratched their heads when they saw the hot dog on wheels pulling up.  Probably a mistake they thought until Traci and Yoli popped out announcing a delivery from Food Runners.  St. Greg's staff and volunteers unloaded with a grateful chuckle.

After St. Greg's, the fun careened toward Union Square for the usual Friday afternoon pick up at Justin TV.  Serena at Justin had a good laugh when she arrived curbside with her cart full of leftover in-house lunch.  Follwoing the pick up, the Wienermobile headed out Geary Street to Thrive House in the Western Addition.  Thuy at Thrive had her camera ready and couldn't wait to show the kids who would be arriving shortly for their after school program for which Food Runners provides a delivery every Friday.  


Traffic thickened in the afternoon sun, but that didn't daunt the stalwart Traci.  From Thrive House, she continued on her mission soon arriving at Twitter in SOMA.  Chef Lance presented Traci and Yoli with the usual big load of excellent leftover lunch o' day from Twitter's corporate cafeteria.  Final stop:  Columbia Park Boys and Girls Club in the Mission where the kids came out to get a glimpse of the Weinermobile. Columbia Park staff received the food gladly knowing that not only would some hungry bellies get much needed food, but in addition, the kids would be exposed to healthier, more nutritious foods than they might normally eat.  A win, win for all.  


Traci ended the adventure with the following email:

Dear Food Runners,
Yoli and I had a wonderful time running around town, picking up and delivering food in the Wienermobile. It was great to see so many smiling faces and meet so many kind people.  Thanks again for letting us help out! Hopefully we can do it again someday.
Best,
Traci

Again someday indeed.  Maybe next year!


Jingle, jangle, jingle. Holiday parties and events are in full swing.  Do you know what's happening to the leftovers at the events you are attending?  Tell the food staff about Food Runners.  Food Runners volunteers will pick up the leftovers with a smile and make sure they are delivered to San Franciscans in need. 

Happy, healthy, hearty holidays to all! Compost, schmompost! Call Food Runners instead.  415-929-1866.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Partners in Good


The planning began in mid July.  Ashley called the San Francisco Food Bank.  The Food Bank referred Ashely to Food Runners.  Following the initial connection, "I'm so glad we found each other" became the refrain between Ashley and Food Runners.

This  year's Outside Lands Festival dominated the western end of Golden Gate Park from  Friday, August 12th thru Monday, August 14th.  An  average of 60,000 concert goers attended each day.  That's a lot of people in need of sustenance which was largely supplied by food vendors like Let's Be Frank,  American Grilled Cheese Kitchen and many more. In addition, the event's tech crew of over 150 required three fully catered meals daily.  Altogether, that translated into a mountain of prepared food that generated a mountain of leftovers.  Without Ashley and Food Runners, all that surplus food would have likely gone to waste.

Ashley delivering trays to vendors
Ashley Hillis, creator of the Zero Leftover Initiative, designed for events just like Outside Lands, had already cut her teeth doing massive food rescue at the Bonnaroo Festival held in June in Tennessee.   After working with Superfly Presents, the company that puts on Bonnaroo, she was invited to San Francisco to do recovery at Outside Lands.  Once on the job, Ashley was looking for a San Francisco agency to partner with for Outside Lands.  Food Runners was the perfect fit.

After many email and phone exchanges discussing logistics, on site operations got underway on Thursday, August 11th when Ashley met with Food Runners for a "walk through" of the Outside Lands sprawling set up.  Food Runners and Ashely met with Chef Steve of Chef's Touch Catering before supplying the food vendors at the various meadows with containers in which to place their leftovers for each evening's 10PM pick ups  to be performed by volunteers.

Ashley with FR truck drivers Dave and Kacie
At 10AM the following day,  the Food Runners truck, armed with security passes commandeered by Ashley, made its way around the Polo Field's track to the backstage catering tent for the first pick up of leftover crew food.  Food Runners' truck drivers, David and Kacie, loaded up trays of yummy lasagna, chicken, and potato gratin before taking off to resume their daily route.  By noon, hoards of folks were streaming into Golden Gate Park.  Purple hair, tie dyed shirts and flounced, full skirts abounded.  Highly amped strains of rock n' roll shattered the quiet neighborhoods west of Crossover Drive.  Outside Lands had begun.  All three loud, crowded, foggy, cold days of it.

Volunteer Bill W. piling up the donations
For three days in a row, the Food Runners truck arrived at 10AM to pick up the leftover crew food. For three nights in a row, the Food Runners truck came back at 10PM to pick up the vendor donations. For three nights in a row a small crew including Food Runners volunteer Bill W., his daughter Sarah, Ashley's mom Lisa and Ashley's sister Whitney all met Ashley at 9:30PM to collect the vendor donations. This involved Ashley wielding a golf cart from vendor site to vendor site while Bill, Sarah. Lisa and Whitney retrieved whatever the individual vendors had to offer.  Bill reported Ashley's driving skills to rival those of Danica Patrick!  "White knuckles all the way," he chuckled.

Sisters Whitney and Ashley on the job.


The overall donations averaged 30 trays per pick up.  That's 60 trays a day over three days.  At an average of 10lbs per tray, the grand total comes to approximately 2 tons!  That's 2 tons of nutritious food that went to San Franciscans in need instead of the garbage.  Rock on, Food Runners.  Rock on!  In addition to the food, Ashley also recovered boxes of useful items from event sponsors like Garnier Fructis.

One night's haul in the back of the FR truck
A thousand thanks to Ashely Hillis without whom the scope of the Outside Lands pick ups would not have been the same.

If you're outside of SF and want to learn how you can get involved with event/festival food recovery, please reach out to Ashley Hillis ashleyhillis@me.com. Or follow her food recovery adventures via Twitter @ashleyhillis.

The  Food Runners word is out!  More and more businesses are  doing it! Please welcome new donors West StudiosMerakiUva EnotecaSpurHipmunk and Crosslink Captial.  Wow!  Do you know what your office or local market does with their leftovers?  Tell them about Food Runners. Donating good food to those in need is just a phone call away at 415-929-1866.

Food Runners is now on Facebook and Twitter!  Check it out.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Good Things, Small packages 4 email

"How do you know how much food to cook for 3,000 people before an athletic event?" Mary C-R. asked as she stacked multiple trays overflowing with enchiladas at the close of the Avon Two Day Breast Cancer Walk of July 10.   "I was in the catering business for years, and even I don't know how you get that one right. Thank goodness for Food Runners," Mary continued.  "I've been constantly frustrated by food waste over the years.  I was thrilled to bits when I found Food Runners." Food Runners picked up nearly1,000 pounds of food from the Avon Walk that day thanks to Mary.

Mary stands a trim and fit 5'plus a wee bit tall depending on which running shoes she's wearing that day. Weighing  little more than a teenage girl, her shoulders could easily fit through through the doorway to a child's playhouse.  Strawberry bangs swing past her dancing hazel eyes which crinkle endearingly when she smiles her infectious smile.  Don't be fooled by Mary's pixie like presence.  Mary is a powerhouse.  In the food business since the age of 15, Mary knows a thing or two about how much food goes to waste on a regular basis.  It  drove her crazy until one day...  

"I was on my morning run outside the Mission district and noticed someone carrying trays and pans of various sizes into a building from a truck labeled "Food Runners"; obviously a donation.  I walked inside my house, flipped open my laptop and looked up "Food Runners."  The rest, as they say, is history."

History indeed. Mary signed on as a Food Runners volunteer that day.  Within a week or two of doing her first food run, Mary and her partner Jonathan volunteered for a regular gig at the Castro Street Farmers Market.  Every Wednesday evening, as the sun sets over Twin Peaks, Mary and Jonathan gather  generous donations of farm fresh produce from the market's vendors.  Summer and early fall are particularly bountiful often filling Mary's car to the bursting point.  Mary and Jonathan deliver the treasure to the very appreciative Father Alfred Center in SOMA. In addition, until this week, when a new job changed Mary's schedule, Mary ran food on Mondays from Rainbow Grocery to Clara House, a ladies shelter in the Western Addition.  "I really LOVE that run," Mary lamented.  "I'm so sorry to have to give it up."
"Every week since I joined Food Runners," muses Mary, "I have felt humbled as well as fulfilled to know that I have this small chance to give back to the community that has, for years, and still does, support me."  Food Runners feels humbled in return to have a citizen like Mary in its ranks.  Long may she volunteer.

Food Runners welcomes new donors Square Up and Craigslist both of whom are donating the surplus from their in-house meals on a weekly basis.  What happens to the leftover food from your company's in-house meals?  How about all the hot dogs and potato salad that won't get consumed at this year's company picnic? Call Food Runners, 415-929-1866.  Help your company be green and community focused.  Making a difference is so easy.





Good Things, Small Packages

"How do you know how much food to cook for 3,000 people before an athletic event?" Mary R. asked as she stacked multiple trays overflowing with enchiladas following the Avon Two Day Breast Cancer Walk of July 10.   "I was in the catering business for years, and even I don't know how you get that one right. Thank goodness for Food Runners," Mary continued.  "I've been constantly frustrated by food waste over the years.  I was thrilled to bits when I found Food Runners." Food Runners picked up nearly 1,000 pounds of food from the Avon Walk that day thanks to Mary.

Mary stands a trim and fit 5' and a smidge tall depending on which running shoes she's wearing that day. Weighing  little more than a teenage girl, her shoulders could easily fit through through the doorway to a child's playhouse. Strawberry bangs  hover above her dancing hazel eyes which crinkle endearingly when she  flashes her big, infectious smile.  Don't be fooled by Mary's pixie-like presence.  Mary is a powerhouse.  In the food business since the age of 15, Mary knows a thing or two about how much food goes to waste on a regular basis.  It  drove her crazy until one day...  

"I was on my morning run outside the Mission district and noticed someone carrying trays and pans of various sizes into a building from a truck labeled "Food Runners"; obviously a donation.  I walked inside my house, flipped open my laptop and looked up "Food Runners."  The rest, as they say, is history."

History indeed. Mary signed on as a Food Runners volunteer that day.  Within a week or two of doing her first food run, Mary and her partner Jonathan volunteered for a regular gig at the Castro Street Farmers Market.  Every Wednesday evening, as the sun sets over Twin Peaks, Mary and Jonathan gather the generous donations of farm fresh produce from the market's vendors.  Summer and early fall are particularly bountiful often filling Mary's car to the bursting point.  Mary and Jonathan deliver the treasure to the extremely appreciative Father Alfred Center in SOMA. In addition, until this week, when a new job changed Mary's schedule, Mary ran food on Monday mornings from Rainbow Grocery to Clara House, a ladies shelter in the Western Addition.  "I really LOVED that run," Mary lamented.  "I'm so sorry to have to give it up."

"Every week since I joined Food Runners," muses Mary, "I have felt humbled as well as fulfilled to know that I have this small chance to give back to the community that has, for years, and still does, support me."  Food Runners feels humbled in return to have a citizen like Mary in its ranks. Long may she volunteer.

Food Runners welcomes new donors Square Up and Craigslist both of whom are donating the surplus from their in-house meals on a weekly basis.  What happens to the leftover food from your company's in-house meals?  How about all the hot dogs and potato salad that won't get consumed at this year's company picnic? Call Food Runners, 415-929-1866.  Help your company be green and community focused.  Making a difference is so easy.

Food Runners is now on Twitter!  Start following today.  Food Runners on Facebook coming soon.




Friday, July 1, 2011

Connecticut Yankee

The tall, handsome man with the close cropped hair was a natural.  He had to do it. "Growing up, my mom would not throw away a thing," reports Andy Geremia, founder of Food Runners in Connecticut.  "If a tomato was rotted, she would cut away only the really bad part and use the rest."


While driving to work one December day in 2008, Andy heard a story on NPR about Food Runners here in San Francisco.  Why wasn't there such a program in Connecticut he wondered?  That very same morning, Andy called Food Runners founder Mary Risley to see how she got stared. With Mary's guidance and generous support, Food Runners CT was formed in June of 2009.

To date, Food Runners CT receives food donations from more than 35 organizations around the state.  The volunteer pool includes 50+ concerned citizens who, like Andy, are dedicated to alleviating hunger and waste. Food Runners CT delivers to 13 organizations statewide from soup kitchens to shelters to mobile clinics.

Dave at Wayne's Organic in Oneco did the happy dance when he first heard about Food Runners CT collecting end of the day donations.  Dave said his pigs and chickens were so well fed, he would rather donate his produce to needy families.


A recent Food Runners CT donation, consisting of baked goods, allowed a young mother, who was a client at the social services agency in receipt of the donation to provide a beautiful cake for her five year old son's birthday.

One afternoon, a corporate cafeteria donated many trays of sushi (California rolls).  The sushi was delivered to a men's shelter where most of the fellas joked that they had never seen sushi before but couldn't wait to try it. 

In Willimantic, Eastern Connecticut State University students volunteer every Tuesday gathering donations from The Main Street Cafe for delivery to the Covenant Soup Kitchen.


Volunteer Deb in Coventry had been doing some food rescue with her local farmers market on an ad hoc basis.  Now that Food Runners CT has a regular schedule, Deb reserves multiple slots and is always ready to jump in if another volunteer needs to cancel.

Riz in Meriden likes to say he is not a "do-gooder." Really? Riz volunteers regularly for the Aetna run in Hartford.


Since signing up in mid-March, Betsy in Southington has been taking the Friday morning Southington Supermarkets run on a weekly basis.


Like Food Runners San Francisco, Food Runners Connecticut's mission is to help alleviate hunger and waste by keeping viable, perishable food out of the trash.  Because of Food Runners, less food on both coasts ends up in dumpsters and more food ends up on the plates of those in need.  It's win-win for everybody thanks to Andy, Mary and all the dedicated Food Runners volunteers!

Ever wonder where the excess food from your local market or farmers market goes?  Next time you're there, ask.  Tell them about Food Runners.  No food purveyor in Connecticut or San Francisco need ever throw good food away. 

Friday, May 6, 2011

Weather or Not

Don't miss Food Runners brand new video right here on this website!

It depends on the weather.  Whether the weather is cold, warm or hot.  Whether the the fog is in or out.  The serious runners prefer cool and overcast.  The not so serious runners pray for a warm, sun-drenched day.  At San Francisco's annual Bay to Breakers race, Food Runners capitalizes when a cold wind roars off the Pacific and thick gray mist veils the entire city all day long.

2011 Bay to Breakers Forecast:  Partly Cloudy.  Windy.  High: 58F.  Low: 49F.

2008 was Food Runners best ever Bay to Breakers year.  The sun never emerged from the gloom.  The wind howled savagely all day.  Being naked or scantily clad was no fun.  Many left early.  Many just stayed home.  Unanticipated low attendance translated to tons of leftover food.  The Food Runners truck made it safely across town through the drunken revelers and other partiers stalwart enough to have braved the day until the bitter end.  The truck puttered carefully around the Polo Fields track to the Best Beverage Catering tent in the VIP area.  Over 80 neatly packed trays of food awaited:  everything from barbecued chicken to sandwiches, to quiche, pasta, brownies, cookies and more.  In addition, there were numerous cases of oranges and bananas.  What a haul!  Enough for five different shelters that afternoon.



In 2009, the sun shone, a light breeze whispered through the eucalyptus trees and the fog stayed  on the far horizon.  Everyone came out to play and stayed out.  Once again, as the party wound down, the Food Runners truck wove safely through the crazy-quilt crowd.  This time, Best Beverage had a mere dozen or so trays.   The Food Runners truck driver picked up a few additional items from some of the other food vendors.  What a difference a sunny day makes!


In 2010,  Bay to Breakers changed sponsors.  The rules changed.  The food set up changed.  No one knew what to expect resulting in a reasonable haul for Food Runners.  Nothing like 2008, but far better than 2009.
 
Before
After
This year marks the 100th running of Bay to Breakers.  The rules and the set up have changed again this year.  Best Beverage will still be responsible for the majority of the food, but no one knows what to expect.  At this year's race, well... city-wide block party is more like it... alcohol is banned for the first time.  It's anybody's guess how that will affect attendance.  Could be a boon for Food Runners! Whichever way the literal and figurative cookie crumbles and whether the weather, is cold, warm or hot,  Food Runners will be on the job picking up the leftovers and delivering them to San Franciscans in need.

Summer is almost here. Are you attending any weddings this summer?  Yacht Club barbecues?  Company picnics?  Ask the caterers what they are doing with the leftovers.  Tell them about Food Runners.  In San Francisco, edible, perishable food need never go to waste.  A pick up and delivery by a smiling Food Runners volunteer is just a phone call away. 

Friday, April 8, 2011

A Great Run

It's 1:25 on the first sunny Tuesday afternoon in a month.  In the back parking lot of the Ferry Building Marketplace, the one reserved for delivery trucks, Food Runners volunteer Dave M.  wraps up a phone call from inside his modest silver hatchback.  At 1:30, Dave emerges from his car and heads to the CUESA booth out front to pick up a cart.  The Ferry Building's Tuesday Farmers Market is jammed thanks to the good weather.  Before heading to the shops  inside, Dave stops in at the Heirloom Organics booth to check in with Mary,  the "greens lady." Dave hands Mary a few lawn sized garbage bags and tells her,  "I'll be back."  "I've got a good load for you today," Mary assures with a smile, "See you shortly."

Down the busy inside aisle  lined with specialty shops Dave trundles.  "Do you have anything for Food Runners today?" he inquires at Miette Patisserie.  The sales person reaches into the refrigerator case and pulls out two decorative brown boxes, each containing the kind of exquisite cakes that even the most hard-corps health food aficionado would have trouble saying "no" to.  Two shopping bags full of bento box lunches along with a dozen or so delicate Japanese salads await Food Runners at Delica RF-1Pepple's Organic Donuts offers three boxes chock full of mouthwatering, confections that give a whole new meaning to the concept of donuts. Dave wheels the kitty to his car to unload before heading back to the Farmers Market portion of the run for the produce donations.

It's a good day for Food Runners.  The "greens lady's"  toned, tattooed arms hand over three giant bags crammed with organic greens.  Bruins Farms supplies several flats of succulent, fat-cheeked tomatoes.  Dave reaps a broad spectrum from Hamada Farms as well as County Line Harvest.  By now, the cart is overflowing.  Dave crams the haul into his car before going back out for one last load donated by Everything Under the Sun.  Dave can barely close his car doors.

Dave turns out of the Ferry Building and endures a jaunt down Market street weaving between  the trolleys, countless busses, hoards of pedestrians and impatient cyclists.   At last he veers off on Turk, drives a few blocks, then pulls up to the Sala Burton Residence, a clean, well maintained building mid-block between Hyde and Leavenworth.  A woman in her 70’s, wearing a salmon and lilac, hand-painted caftan with metallic gold ankle boots  adorning her feet, stands sentinel on the curb.  Soft silver waves caught in a bun frame her aquiline face.  Dave emerges from his car. "Hi Beverly," he waves.  "Hi Dave," she returns in her mellifluous yet no nonsense voice. "Let me tell the tenants that Food Runners is here."
 
Beverly is the President of the Tenants Association at the Sala Burton Residence.  The Sala Burton Residence is a public housing building serving approximately 100 low income seniors and disabled adults.  Beverly has held her  tenant elected position for many years.  It’s easy to see why.  She advocates passionately for her fellow tenants most of whom are in their 60’s, 70’s or 80’s.  Beverly does everything from activating the “Remembrance Fund” which supplies flowers in the lobby of the building or to the grave of a newly passed away tenant to finding services like Food Runners.

Food Runners has been delivering the Tuesday Farmers Market donations to the Sala Burton Residence since  July of 2008.  Dave has been on the job the majority of that time.  Dave loves seeing Beverly as much as Beverly loves seeing him.  Beverly often calls Food Runners to say thank you and to mention what a difference Food Runners makes for the tenants she so fiercely represents.  It's a good thing.  A very good thing.

Food Runners is always looking for more food. Are your local shops throwing away food?  What about the caterer from the gala or Bar Mitzvah you attended last week?  Tell them about Food Runners.  Food Runners volunteers are eager to pick up their excess food and deliver it to San Franciscans in need.



Friday, March 4, 2011

Food Runners Goes Viral

Volunteers Ora S. & Dan H. collecting donations from the Wednesday night Castro St. Farmers Market
Remember when "viral" meant something unpleasant that you caught without trying and the only good thing about it was that you got to stay home from school?  

The internet has changed all that! "Viral" has taken on a whole new meaning. 

Food Runners wants to go viral.  Despite the more than ten tons of food picked up each week by Food Runners volunteers, masses amounts of food are still being thrown away by San Francisco business every day.  Help get the word out.  Send the link  (  http://blog.foodrunners.org ) to this very blog to everyone you know.  Let's put San Francisco at the top of the "zero food waste" list.  We all know how much San Franciscans care about their fellow citizens.  Let's prove it beyond a shadow of doubt by getting the word out. 

Help Spread the Word...
  • Food Runners really needs: your help in letting everyone who might have excess food know about our service to the community.  
  • All  a business with food has to do is:  put the food in plastic bags or other food-safe containers and call 415.929.1866 for a pickup.   
  • Businesses can be assured that: a Food Runners volunteer will come to pick up the food and deliver it where it can best be used.  
Whole Foods Noe Valley Saturday donation picked up by volunteer Ron K.
    • Food Runners' goal is: to keep edible nutritious food out of the compost!   
    • In addition: if anyone has food leftover from an event at their home, they too can call 415.929.1866, and we will tell them where they can deliver it in their neighborhood. 
    Sister Marie Isabelle loving a much needed donation.
    • We'd also like to: increase the awareness of Food Runners with churches, schools, and corporations.  
    • Simply copy this link:    http://blog.foodrunners.org/   and send it to anyone you know in religious organizations, schools or colleges, caterers, event planners, law firms, and other businesses with food, you can help ensure that food is never wasted.  
    • This is a small way: we can help our fellow San Franciscans in need.  
    • Tell everyone you know with food to call 415.929.1866.
    Unloading Trader Joe's donation for All Saint's Episcopal Church Saturday Dinner Program

    Friday, February 4, 2011

    Whole Lotta Fun Going On

    Food Runners volunteer Alexa made it clear that she wanted to ride the whole day.  She couldn't wait to see the entire operation from start to finish.  "I would LOVE to ride on the 'big person's truck'.  I've been curious about just how much food the truck schleps in a day," she wrote in an email a few days before the big adventure.  "I'll probably pop out of bed 20 times during the night before asking, "is it time to go yet...???"  -- better than Christmas morning!!"

    When Food Runners truck driver Dave H. reported for duty at 7:30AM on January 17, he found Alexa waiting for him by the back of the truck, her sleek chestnut page boy tucked neatly into her Food Runners hat.  Alexa's lifting muscles and curiosity tingled in anticipation as she hoisted herself into the cab.  She felt gloriously macha perched high above all the lowly cars  snaking their way through San Francisco on their way to work.
    First stop:  Whole Foods Potrero Hill.  Dave slid  the cart off the truck and escorted Alexa up the ramp to the composting area of the loading dock.  "Here's where we pick up the produce," Dave said pointing to several shopping carts overflowing with boxes of berries, apples, oranges, spaghetti squash, bunches of kale and more; all of it pristine enough to feed to a toddler.  "This is what they would throw away without Food Runners?" Alexa asked in amazement.  "Yep," Dave replied.  "But wait, there's more." With that Dave led Alexa to the deli area where they picked up two large boxes brimming with house made soups, salads and sandwiches.  From there, they checked in with Chelsea in Dairy.  From Dairy they went to freezer to check for frozen items ready for donation.  They got a little bit from everywhere that day.

    Next stop:  Whole Foods Noe Valley.  The haul there proved just as fabulous in content and size, as Whole Foods Potrero, the big difference being that at the smaller Noe Valley store,  everything resides on a single rack marked "donations."  "This is really fun," Alexa commented as she  slid yet another box filled with fresh salsas, guacamole and cut fruit onto the lip of the truck for Dave to stack properly for transport.
    Third stop:  Laguna Honda Hospital.  "Stop here," Dave instructed Alexa as they entered the massive kitchen.  "You have to get a hairnet." Alexa donned a stylish (not!) blue paper cap and went to work with David transferring industrial sized portions of fully cooked entrees from the hospital's steel pans into the disposable containers used for delivery.  They totaled 16 pans of various items like spaghetti and meat balls, chicken tettrazini, as well as bacon, sausage and french toast leftovers from breakfast. 

    From Laguna Honda Hospital, the dynamic duo pushed on to Bayview for deliveries to the United Council for Human Services and Bayview Safe Haven.  "Hooray! It's Food Runners" is the typical response when recipients see the truck pulling up.  "Y'all are a Godsend," sighed one of the cooks at United Council.  "The food really helps us stretch our budget," remarked Takai of Bayview Safe Haven.  "And it's so nice to get fruit.  Affordable healthy food is hard to come by and the kids really need it."
    Alexa's day of pick ups and deliveries on the Food Runners truck continued with the largest donation coming from, as usual, Trader Joe's.  "It's astonishing how much good food Food Runners keeps out of the trash," Alexa exclaimed while transferring boxes of bananas and pre-packaged salads from one of the three chock full of variety 'limos' of Trader Joe's donations.  After the final delivery to the Iris Center in the Mission Alexa waxed contentedly, "Thank you for the opportunity to ride along.  I already knew that Food Runners was special, but seeing the amount of food that changed hands today gave a whole new meaning to the words community service.  I'm so proud to be a Food Runners volunteer."

    The new year is well underway.  Tell everyone you know about Food Runners.  No edible food need go to waste.  A simple phone call to 415.929.1866 is all that's needed for a pick up.  Anyone calling Food Runners can be sure that a Food Runners volunteer will deliver their donated food to where it is most needed.  Help spread the word!

    Wednesday, January 5, 2011

    The Year in Review 2

    Happy New Year.  Food Runners marked another busy year serving the greater community. Check out Food Runners top ten highlights from 2010.

    10)  GOOD THINGS COME IN SMALL PACKAGES.  It isn't large; one pan full, but it's one good pan full.  In November, Nettie's Crab Shack in Cow Hollow joined the ranks of Food Runners planned overage program meaning that, once a week, Nettie's prepares a nutritious entree, large enough for 20-25 people, specifically for donation to Food Runners. 

    9) GOOD THINGS COME IN BIG PACKAGES TOO.  Zynga Games Network is big and getting bigger all the time.  Zynga began donating to Food Runners in June of 2009.  Since that time, they have moved to a larger building and have gone from donating 2-3 three times a week to twice a day (morning and afternoon), 5 times a week.  The food is and always has been fabulous. And it's always a lot. Food Runners volunteers can't say enough about how much they love delivering Zynga's generous, yummy donations.

    8)  SCHOOL DAZE.  Acre Gourmet's "Real School Lunch Program" further solidified its ongoing partnership with Food Runners by adding regular pick ups from Town School to its already long standing pick ups from sister client, Cathedral School.  Inspired by reading about Acre's efforts from Town and Cathedral, Chef Ian Morrison of Convent of the Sacred Heart School called Food Runners to begin a donations program. Donations from schools like Town, Cathedral and Sacred Heart are carefully directed to after school programs serving low-income kids such as Thrive House and Booker T. Washington Community Center.

    7)  IT'S NOT ROCKET SCIENCE.  Genentech Head Chef Yoel Cohen  couldn't stand seeing excess food from Genentech's on campus Grab n' Go cafes get thrown away.  He knew there had to be a better way.  Chef Yoel called Food Runners.  It took a little while for Chef Yoel to navigate Genentech's in-house security concerns, but he never gave up.  The excess Grab n' Go food doesn't get thrown away anymore.  Since last February, Food Runners has been picking up from all the Grab n' Go's on  campus on a daily basis.  The food includes organic salads, beautiful wraps, sandwiches and more.


    6)  HOLIDAY MADNESS.  Thanksgiving and Christmas were extra special at Food Runners in 2010.  On the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, A.G. Ferrari Foods donated 50 complete Thanksgiving Dinners to Food Runners.  Food Runners volunteer Lynn B. delivered the dinners to Clara House where they were received with awe and great appreciation before being enjoyed by the women and children residing there.  On the Thursday before Christmas, Gastronaut Catering implemented its first "We Wish You a Tasty Christmas" program.  Gastronaut, who donates three times a week to Food Runners on a regular basis, prepared a holiday feast for 40 especially for donation to a family shelter of Food Runners' choosing.  The feast went to Jelani House in Bayview, not far from Gastronaut.  The meal was picked up and delivered by mentors and their youth mentees from the Building Futures mentor program who volunteered for Food Runners for the purpose of learning about the importance of giving back.

    5)  SHIPSHAPE.  "Your gonna need a bigger vehicle," came the sober response from Travis when asked if the food donation would fit in a car.  The big ship docked at Pier 80 had come in to port sooner than planned.  Three days worth of food enough for the crew of 60  sat on board.   The ship wasn't scheduled to go out again for months.  Travis, the vessel's food manager couldn't bare to see all that good food  go to waste.  He called Food Runners. The load filled the Food Runners truck to bursting three times.  The folks at Hamilton Family Shelter, the Lucille Withe Center, Next Door  and Martin DePorres all ate well that September weekend.  

    4)  AT LAST.  In May, Executive Chef Lucas Shoemaker of McCall's Catering and Events came aboard the Good Ship Food Runners.  McCall's follows in the footsteps of fellow premier caterers and long time donors Paula Le Duc Catering, Taste Catering, Best Beverage and more.  When McCall's calls, it's not just another pick up.  It's an occasion.  McCall's is organized, efficient, generous and the food is FAN-tastic.

    3) FARM FRESH.  Food Runners added four farmers markets to its list of  regular farmers market pick ups.  They markets added in 2010 are: the Upper Haight Market, the Inner Sunset  Market, the Mission Community Market and the Fort Mason Farmers market.  Fresh produce is gold in the food donations arena and Food Runners struck another vein in the Mother Lode. 

    2) WHERE'S THE BEEF?  It's still happening!  Food Runners founder Mary Risley saw a need and she filled it.  Mary heard that the shelters never had enough protein.  Last Spring, Food Runners resumed the meat program meat program Mary instituted in 2009.   For the second year in a row, Food Runners purchased $1,000 of meat per week, for 20 weeks intended  specifically for donation to the shelters.  This year's meat supplier, Del Monte Meat Company has been most generous making sure that a generous amount and variety made up every order.  Upon reading about the program in this very space in October, local citizen Kathy K. immediately donated $5,000 for the purpose of extending the meat donations for an additional five weeks.

    1)  THE GREATEST GIFT.  What's the greatest gift that Food Runners brings to the community?  Getting food to those in need, of course, but maybe something more...
    This from Food Runners volunteer David T. about a man on the receiving end of a weekly Saturday food run shared by David, his wife and some Food Runners volunteer friends:  "Robert has become, for us, the human face of the people we touch in our role as middle person between the food and those who need it.  But he has become more than a client.  He has become a friend and a man with a back story that, like some gigantic onion, gets peeled back layer by layer each time we interact with him.  We will be making two runs on Chirstmas Eve of the usual overflow from Trader Joe's.  We are hoping against hope that, despite the non-Saturdayness of the runs, we will be able to find Robert there on the curb outside his building where, if we are lucky, he will make our Christmas, not vice versa."

    It's a brand new year!  Remember to spread the word that Food Runners is always looking for more food.  Tell your local restaurants, grocery stores, bakeries and other businesses that they never have to throw away or compost good, edible food.  Food Runners is just a phone call away at 415-929-866.  And don't forget to tell your friends that they can help too by becoming a Food Runners volunteer or by making a monetary donation to Food Runners.  Giving back never felt so good!