Food Runners

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Long and Short of It

Excited volunteer on the job
Some are tall.  Some are small.  Some are old.  Some are young.  Some text. Some do not. Come November, some will vote for Obama.  Some will vote for the other guy. Food Runners volunteers come in all shapes and sizes from all walks of life.  Hipster or codger, college student or college prof, soccer mom or working mom, group or individual, they all sign up because they want to help.  In an essay written for an application to nursing school, volunteer Syndey N. describes the Food Runners experience beautifully. 

"I've been involved in community service activity in San Francisco since September of 2011, helping out in the area that is near and ear to my heart.  I volunteer with Food Runners, a San Francisco based non-profit that redistributes food (that would otherwise be thrown away) to those in need.  I chose to work with Food Runners because for me, eating is so much more than just meeting energy and nutrient needs.  Good food is something that should be savored  and appreciated.  The very act of eating a meal is something that can be shared with family or good friends, serving to build stronger social ties.  For many underprivileged folks right here in the San Francisco, eating a  meal that is both healthful and delicious is sadly beyond their reach.

volunteer loading up at the Farmers Market
As a Food Runners volunteer, I have a weekly run that I'm responsible for.  When I first started with Food Runners, my pick up locations were near the waterfront... Fort Mason, Fisherman's Wharf. My deliveries were the same places each week one of which was a residential building for low-income folks located in the Tenderloin district. Heading down to Fisherman's Wharf makes one feel like a bit of a tourist, but by the time I reached my drop off destination, I felt as though I had just gone on a driving tour of San Francisco.  A tour passing through the regions of "haves" and "have nots."  Seeing these stark contrasts in such a short time span can really create feelings of unjustness.  I was glad to do something to help.

Of course, because I delivered food each week to these folks, I got to know some of them by face, many by name.  They were always happy to see me pull up to their home with my car loaded down with delicious fresh food.  And I, likewise, always felt happy to know that I had helped these people at least on that day, have a little food security."

typical Friday at St. Gregory's Food Pantry
Helping thy neighbor with food security is what Food Runners is all about.  Creating community is a wonderful collateral benefit.  Should you have any doubt that food insecurity is on the rise, even in a city as blessed as San Francisco, check out the San Francisco Food Security Task Force's recent report on the subject.  Or pull up to St. Gregory's Church one Friday at lunch time and watch the line of people waiting for free groceries build until it wraps far around the block, 3-4 abreast.  You might even see the Food Runners truck arrive with a giant load of donations from Whole Foods, Bay Bread, Genentech, SF Baking Institute, Laguna Honda Hospital and more.  Food Runners can't change the world, but with our trusty truck and an army of dedicated volunteers like Syndey, we can change things for our neighbors.  One bite at a time.

Are you or do you have friends who are looking for ways to give back but aren't sure what to do?  Tell them about Food Runners.  There are three ways to help.  Donate time.  Donate food.  Donate money. Any way you slice it, donating to Food Runners is fast, it's easy and it's fun.  And most importantly,  it makes a difference.