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!