Food Runners

Friday, April 27, 2012

Prince Among Men

Succulent strawberries snuggle in their flats, shoulder to plump, scarlet shoulder.  Mangoes blush demurely in their cases, waiting patiently for their turns to be fondled for ripeness.  Slender asparagus spears repose in neat rows next to boxes of architecturally perfect artichokes.  The clock tower scrapes the blue-wash sky where nary a wisp of San Francisco fog dares drift. Welcome to Spring at the Ferry Plaza Saturday Farmers Market.  The market is big. It's bustling. It's a blast. People come from all over San Francisco toting canvas bags that beg to be filled with California's finest, freshest produce.  Even when shoppers purchase plenty,  there's always food left over.

Typical leftovers at the Saturday Ferry Plaza Farmer Market
"Bring out your food," booms a basso profondo wail, complete with British accent. The call comes long about 1:30 when when the market begins to shut down for the day.  "Bring out your food," repeats the owner of the voice, a tall sandy haired man wielding an industrial cart up.  "Over here, Keith," cries out vendor after vendor.  "I've got something for you," they offer.  Keith, or "Food Runner Goldstein" as he often refers to himself, waits at various booths as vendor after vendor hands him whatever  product they couldn't sell that day and that won't make it in conditions up to their high standards to their next gig.  Keith and his long time assistant Seth A. from Kathmandu, pile bag upon bag and box upon box of beautiful produce, eggs, nuts and various other market sundries onto the cart before loading it into the Food Runners truck.  Some 45 minutes and many cartfuls later, the truck is stuffed to the gills.  During peak summer months, the haul often totals over 1,000 pounds!  That's 1,000 pounds of edible food that would otherwise go in the garbage.

Seth and Keith ready for their rounds
After Keith and Seth have canvassed the entire farmers market outside the Ferry Building, they go inside to collect donations from the following shops:  Delica R-F 1, Miette Cakes, Frog Hollow Farm, American Eatery and Pepple's Donuts.  Once finished collecting everything, Keith and Seth A. from Kathmandu climb into the truck and set out for their delivieries to various agencies serving those in need including Martin DePorres and Hamilton Family Center among others. The whole run takes 3-4 hours.  Saturday after Saturday, week after week, year after year, Keith does the run.  He's has been doing it for seventeen years.  Keith is a VOLUNTEER!

Keith and Seth at work
As if his work with Food Runners weren't philanthropic enough, Keith is also the founder and president of Nepal S.E.E.D.S.,  a non-profit organization providing relief to some of Nepal's poorest villages.  Villages and a people that Keith fell in love with upon his first visit there many years ago.  In addition, Keith owns Everest Waterproofing and Restoration in San Francisco where he has provided jobs to many Tibetan refugees in the Bay Area.

If you'd like to witness "Food Runner Goldstein" in action, head down to the Ferry Plaza Marketplace one Saturday between 1-2PM.  Just follow the sound of Keith's plaintive "bring out your food" and you will spot him, usually in a red t-shirt, encouraging the vendors to load him up with "food for the people." Check out the quality and quantity of donations he's collecting. You'll be amazed. Be sure to tip your hat   when you see Keith.  Keith is tres cool.  Keith is a Food Runner. Keith is a hero.

Food Runner Goldstein:  Hero Among Us
It's baseball season!  what does that mean for Food Runners?  More food!  Food Runners picks up excess food from AT & T Park following every home game.  More food = more full bellies.  Go Giants and pass the mustard please!  Is your local restaurant or grocery store throwing away food?  Tell them about Food Runners.  Food Runners is fast.  It's easy.  It's FREE and most of all it makes a difference.