Food Runners

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Community Chest

Chop, saute, roast, bake. Chop, saute, roast, bake. Decorate, decorate, decorate. That's what 50 or so members of Congregation Beth Shalom in the Richmond District did for hours in the days leading up to Thanksgiving. The temple smelled fantastic. Backs ached, feet throbbed and hands were tired, but hearts were happy.

"Congregation Beth Shalom wants to prepare Thanksgiving dinners for families in need," Beth Jones, Manager of Membership and Congregation Relations explained to Food Runners founder and Executive Director, Mary Risley a few weeks before Thanksgiving.  "We have a full industrial kitchen and many volunteers excited to take part," Beth continued.  "We can easily produce over 100 dinners.  We're not sure where to take our dinners.  Can you help?"   In typical Mary Risley fashion, Mary sprung into action, not only providing the names of some family shelters, but, in addition, promising that Food Runners would coordinate Food Runners volunteers to transport the dinners from Congregation Beth Shalom to the chosen shelters.

Beth Shalom Thanksgiving dinner for a family of 4.
On the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, excitement bubbled just below the surface all day for volunteers Karyn S., Debra R. and Jamie S., the three food runners who responded first to the call for the Beth Shalom run.  At 2:15 that afternoon, the three gals arrived in their respective cars, ready to spread some truly meaningful holiday cheer.  The fully prepared, deliciously fragrant dinners, all wrapped in lovingly hand-decorated bags, stretched out in a long line in the temple's courtyard, ready for pick up. 

Dinners ready for pick up by Food Runners volunteers.
The line of festive bags included complete dinners for 13 families (41 people total) for delivery by FR volunteer Debra R. to Compass Clara House  in Hayes Valley,  complete dinners for 21 families (75 people total) for delivery by FR volunteer Karyn S. to Hamilton Family Center near the Panhandle and last but not least, a communal meal with all the fixin's for 66 for delivery by FR volunteer Jamie S. to Compass Family Shelter in the Tenderloin.  Wow.  Food Runners and Congregation Beth Shalom rockin' it together for struggling  San Francisco families  at a time when struggling families often feel their struggles the most.

Karyn S. with car fully loaded.
Along with ending hunger and alleviating waste, creating community is one of the founding principals and ongoing missions of Food Runners.  From Congregation Beth Shalom to Food Runners to Clara House, Compass Family Shelter and Hamilton Family, community abounded this Thanksgiving with all parties involved being the richer for it when all was said and done.  What a great kick-off to the holidays.  Food Runners style.  Totally.

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! Got excess food?  Call Food Runners.  415-929-1866.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Food for Thought

Have you ever wondered about who receives the food that Food Runners picks up? Chances are when you close your eyes, you imagine adults, mostly men, standing in line at a well known soup kitchen like St. Anthony's Dining Room or Glide. But, beyond St. Anthony's and Glide, there are many different types of organizations throughout San Francisco serving many different populations in need.  For example: after school programs targeted to kids from low-income families...

Gaggles of high school kids gather daily at after school programs like those at Oasis for Girls, Booker T. Washington Community Center, Seven Tepees or the Vietnamese Youth Development Center. The kids 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 many 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.

Thanks to Food Runners,  on some days, some of these kids get to use their change for bus fare instead of food. Every Wednesday afternoon, Food Runners volunteer Paul O. stops in at Heroku, a tech company in SOMA, where the lovely Celeste plies him with trays of leftovers from the day's catered lunch. The food is spectacular and the menus are always wonderfully healthful.  No junk food at Heroku. Celeste makes sure the hard working staff at Heroku is eating well.  Better nutrition leads to sharper minds. That goes for the young ladies at Oasis for Girls in SOMA too where Paul delivers the food. A similar routine plays out at Justin TV every Friday. Food Runners volunteer Courtney N. braves the traffic at the corner of Bush and Sansome  where Ashley of Justin TV waits curbside with a cart stacked with anything from bowls of fresh salad, to trays of spring rolls to sandwiches; whatever Justin's lunch offering o' day consisted of. Courtney delivers the food to smiling young faces at the Vietnamese Youth Development Center in the heart of the Tenderloin.

When Food Runners delivers to after school programs like Oasis and VYDC, the study areas get quieter. When Food Runners delivers to after school programs like Oasis and VYDC, the growl of rumbling stomachs gets replaced by the sound of pages turning in books and the click of fingernails on keyboards. When Food Runners delivers to after school programs like Oasis and VYDC, tougher math problems get solved, harder words get spelled correctly, more homework gets finished and maybe, just maybe some kids inch a little closer to success because they can concentrate on things other than hunger.

The ability to provide substantial, nutritious food at programs like Oasis and VYDC translates into greater attendance. This a refrain heard from staff at many of the after school programs Food Runners serves. Greater attendance means less time on the streets and more time focused on school work.  Food Runners is proud to be a factor in that equation.  

Over the bridges and through the hills, to holiday feasts we go...  Do you know what's happening to the leftovers at the all the dinners and parties you'll be attending this season? Tell the host/caterer/event coordinator about Food Runners. To donate food, they simply need call 415-929-1866.  In the words of Food Runners director Mary Risley, "There's enough food out there for everyone. It's a matter of distribution."

Monday, October 7, 2013

America's Cup Runneth Over

Sleek boats skimmed across the bay at lightning speeds, their majestic masts so high they seemed to scrape the sky. Bystanders packed the waterfront from the shores of Tiburon to the Ferry Building  and beyond.  The 34th America's Cup race brought thrills, crowds and excitement to San Francisco all summer long. For Food Runners, it all started in June with Levy's Restaurant, the company contracted to supply the food at the America's Cup Pavilion.

Summer in the City.
Security was tight.  Lockdown tight.  "May I see your ID," intoned the right-out-of-Central-Casting-security-guard stationed at the entrance of Pier 29 1/2.  Food Runners flashed a driver's license.  The guard gave Food Runners a long, slow once over in that way that women do when eyeballing a rival's gown at an opening night gala.  "Who are you here to see," the guard quipped, all serious business.  "Dan with Levy's," replied Food Runners.  "Wait here," the guard instructed.  Following 10 minutes of unintelligible walkie-talkie crackle between security and an unknown source, Dan of Levy's emerged from the inner gloom of the cavernous pier, riding a mini flatbed piled high with trays and boxes of food.  Sliced meats and cheeses by the pound.  Trays full of corn on the cob.  Burritos by the dozen.  And more.  So much more.  Enough to fill the Food Runners volunteer's mini-van leaving barely enough room to see out the back window.

Pull in here.  Wait for security clearance.
"It was our first weekend," Dan explained. "We really didn't know how what to expect.  It's doubtful we'll have amounts like this regularly, but can Food Runners come whenever we have extra?" "Absolutely!"  Food Runners responded.  Levy's called with donations numerous times over the course of the America's Cup events.  Not long after Levy's initial call, America's Cup/Live Nation called.  "I'm the caterer who provides the back stage food for the cast and crew for all of the shows in  the America's Cup Concert Series," Jill stated.  "We'd like to get a pick up at the end of each show for all ten shows.  There's always good food left over and I can't stand throwing it away.  I can't believe what a wonderful service Food provides.  Are you able to come around 9PM for all ten shows?"  "Yes! Yes! Yes!" exclaimed Food Runners. No brainer.  Every pick up contained a major feast of one sort or another.  One donation even included a gorgeous bouquet of flowers for Karyn, the volunteer on the job, bestowed by Jill as a thank you to Food Runners.

Typical America's Cup/Live Nation pick up.
To top things off, the annual Oracle Open World Convention coincided with the final week of the America's Cup festivities making the last week in September one of the busiest weeks in Food Runners history.  For a whole week, San Francisco was awash in excess food. For a whole week, Food Runners made sure that, all over town, agencies feeding the hungry got a piece of the pie.

Convention season is in full swing and holiday season is just around the corner.  Have you thought about what happens to the leftover food at the holiday parties and galas you will attend? If you suspect it will be thrown away, tell the caterer about Food Runners.  A simple phone call to 415-929-1866 will keep the food out of the garbage and get it to where it is needed most. 

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Here's to the Techies Who Lunch

A free meal or two might make your employees more chipper. And happiness translates into increased productivity according to a 2009 study. Healthy food choices matter too. "Many studies show that eating healthier foods leads to more activity, more concentration, more energy and better overall health," says Glassdoor spokesman Scott Dobroski. "Racing to the nearby deli can also eat up time that might otherwise be spent chatting business with colleagues over in-house cuisine."

In-house cuisine. All the tech companies are doing it. And there are SO many tech companies in San Francisco these days, with new ones sprouting up weekly, it seems. From well established megasaurs like Twitter and Google who serve from expansive corporate cafeterias, to smaller firms like My Lively, and Crowdtilt, who order in catered meals on a daily basis. There's always excess food. That translates into a Food Runners bonanza.

Bonanza!  Food Runners volunteer Sam B delivering tech company meal excess.
"We had a work event yesterday and I wasn't sure how much to order," says CH, the adorable office manager at a cloud application platform company in SOMA.  30 trays to Food Runners that day.

"We order catered lunch daily," states DG, the CEO of a new start up in the Presidio.  "The company we order from requires a minimum of ten meals per order.  While I expect us to expand quickly, at the moment, we only have six employees.  I'm so glad that Food Runners can get our leftovers to where they are needed."  2 boxes of variety including soups, salads, sandwiches and individual entrees to Food Runners every Wednesday and Friday.

Typical tech company catered leftovers  as seen in the trunk of a FR volunteer's car.
"I prepare lunch every day for a number equivalent to 90% of our total workforce," remarks the head chef at a corporate cafeteria of a large, well-known firm.  "There is no way of knowing in advance how many employees will eat in-house on a given day and how many will go out. I can't be caught without, so there are always leftovers."  Leftovers indeed.  An average of 10-20 trays to Food Runners daily.

20 trays!
Beginning at 1:30 every weekday afternoon, the calls for pick ups from tech companies flood in. Companies like TradeshiftAir bnbApartment ListGrockitHerokuMoPubMochi Media, Justin TV, SquareKiva, Craigslist, BoostCTRAmpush...phew! The list goes on. And the food is gurrrrrr-REAT!!! These companies really invest their people and they care about their community too. How wonderful is that?  And how San Francisco.  Food Runners recipients like Cameo House, offering supportive, transitional housing to single mothers, love it when a Food Runners volunteer pulls up laden with tech company lunch leftovers. Food Runners and San Francisco's current technocracy: what a perfect match!

Community Focus plates up excess from Google delivered by Food Runners 
Does your company serve in-house meals?   What's happening to the leftovers?  A simple phone call to 415-929-1866 will keep your company's food out of the garbage and into the mouths of San Franciscans in need.  It is estimated that 197,000 people in San Francisco struggle each day to feed themselves and their families. Food Runners is part of the solution. Tell everyone you know.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Summer Fun

"San Frantartica." "Fogust." "The coldest winter I ever spent was August in San Francisco." Must be summer in San Francisco. Yep. It's gray. It's windy. It's cold. But not at Food Runners where all the great summer happenings and events heat things right up.

By noon on Friday, August 9th, hoards of folks will begin streaming into Golden Gate Park. Purple hair, tie dyed shirts and flowing, flounced skirts will abound. Over amped strains of rock n' roll will shatter the quiet neighborhoods west of Crossover Drive. This year's Outside Lands will be underway. All three loud, crowded, freezing, foggy days of it.  The festival will dominate the western end of Golden Gate Park from  Friday, August 9th thru Sunday, August 11th.  An average of 60,000 concert goers are expected to attended each day. That's a lot of people in need of sustenance. Sustenance which will be supplied by food vendors like Escape from New York Pizza, 4505 MeatsAmerican Grilled Cheese Kitchen and many, many more. In addition, the festival's artists and tech crew of over 150 will  require three full meals daily which will be catered to perfection by Chef's Touch Catering. Altogether, that translates into a mountain of prepared food that will generate a mountain of leftovers. 

Volunteer Bill W. collecting donations at 2012 Outside Lands
Leftovers that will be picked up by Food Runners. For three nights in a row, a small crew of Food Runners volunteers will converge on the Polo Fields at 10PM. They will be driven around the festival grounds on golf carts, to various food stations, where they will collect donations set aside by the many vendors. It's a big operation involving all kinds of security measures, expert coordination and complicated logistics on the part of the festival staff who are thrilled be to be partnering with Food Runners for the third year in a row.

On the other side of town...  the very next weekend...  Food Runners volunteers will be on scene at the close of La Cocina's two big summer events: The Night Market on Friday, 8/16 and The Street Food Festival on Sat, 8/17. Both events promise excellent donations from the many vendors participating in the fun.

La Cocina Night Market in full swing.

Been following The America's Cup?  Food Runners has. Levy's Restaurant, selected by the America's Cup as the official restaurant partner to the "Summer of Racing," has been making spectacular donations since mid-June. In addition, Food Runners just began receiving equally spectacular donations from the backstage caterer to the artists and crews of the America's Cup/Live Nation concert series. The donations from both groups will continue through the close of the America's Cup events in October.  Zowie! 

Car full of America's Cup!
Get out your parkas and rub your hands together for another great San Francisco summer.  If you know of events where food plays a part, call Food Runners. 415-929-1866.  Our volunteers will see to it that excess food from this summer's events goes to San Franciscans in need instead of the compost bin. Food Runners is a simple way to warm up those famously frigid "fog days" of summer in San Francisco.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Made For Food Runners

He's not your stereo-typical chef.  No blazing eyes.  No thousand decibel Gordon Ramsey scream.  Just  great food, a calm attitude and a desire to give back.  Every Wednesday morning, Chef/Owner Gerard Hirogoyen of  Piperade sees to it that his kitchen prepares a nutritious entree especially for donation to Food Runners.   Every Wednesday morning at 10:30, Food Runners volunteer Judy E. arrives at Piperade's kitchen entrance to pick up the donation.  Following smiles and handshakes, Judy loads the food in her car and drives off to deliver it to North Beach Citizens where more, even bigger smiles and handshakes are exchanged.

Volunteer Judy E. at Piperade
On Tuesdays, volunteer Heather S. prays for parking near Delfina on 18th Street. Once found, Heather runs in and out in a flash.  The entree prepared especially for Food Runners always waits for her on a table near the bar.  The seniors at Rypins House love Heather and Tuesday afternoons.

On Wednesdays, the pans of food for donation at 25 Lusk are so heavy that volunteer Wanda C. gets a workout carrying them up the kitchen stairs to her car parked in the back alley.  The folks at the Washburn can't wait to dig in.

Planned Overage
These scenes are typical of Food Runners Planned Overage program which has been in operation almost since the inception of Food Runners over 25 years ago.  Here's how the program works:  once a week, participating restaurants prepare a nutritious entree for donation to Food Runners.  A Food Runners volunteer picks up the donation on the appointed day and then delivers it an agency serving those in need.  Simple!

Kokkari gets into the act donating 2-3 pans every Thursday.  "I can't wait for my run to Kokkari," reports volunteer Sam H.  "It's such a great thing these restaurants are doing and my car always smells so good!"   On Mondays, Nettie's Crab Shack donates a pan of fresh fish. "I wouldn't miss my run to Nettie's for the world," states volunteer Maria W.  "I especially love knowing that the seniors at Broderick Street Adult Residential are getting something healthy."   Every Tuesday, Amici's East Coast Pizzeria whips up 10 cheese pizzas for Food Runners.  Other Planned Overage participants include:  Rose Pistola, COCO500Le Colonial and Tante Marie's Cooking School.  Food Runners Planned Overage program is a local treasure. A real win/win/WIN.

Volunteer Sam H. on delivry from Kokkari

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

Post Script:
In an effort to further express Food Runners' total appreciation for all the restaurants participating in the Planned Overage program,  here are additional highlights from the program.

Every Tuesday volunteer Tori R. pulls up to the mysterious barn-like back door of COCO500. She pokes her head in and hollers, "Food Runners!"  Out comes a smiling kitchen staff member carrying a large foil tray, sometimes two.  Off the tray(s) go to St. James' Infirmary where Tori loves delivering. "You just never know who's going to answer the door," Tori chuckles.  "I meet some real only-in-San Francisco characters.  They're always so appreciative.  My Tuesday afternoons are a delight."

Parking in North Beach? You must be kidding.  Fortunately, Rose Pistola has a white passneger zone right out front.  "Picking up at Rose's is so easy," reports volunteer Jane L.  "I just pull up, go in and the  staff, who is always so nice,  hands me a tray of spaghetti or some other kind of pasta with amazing sauce.  It smells so good, I'm going to eat there in the near future.  I can't resist and I love what they are doing for Food Runners!"

Entering Le Colonial from the kitchen stairs is like stepping into Oz from Kansas.  From gray and non-descript to vivd color complete with tropical flowers and lush foliage.  Every Tuesday afternoon, Chef Brian prepares a delicious Vietnamese style entree, usually accompanied by a full pan of rice, just for Food Runners.  "We so loved our food run to Le Colonial," sighs long time volunteer Marcia T.  "Now that we're moving to Southern California, some other lucky volunteer will get to enjoy going.  We will miss Le Colonial a lot.  Especially Brian and the wonderful staff who cares so much."

Caring.  That's what Food Runners Planned Overage program is all about.  Hats off  and 1,000 thanks to the participating restaurants.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Pig Heaven

Thursday, March 28th
"Are the heads on?" asked Chef Danny Higginbotham of Walden House, excitement rising in his voice.  When the answer came back in the affirmative, Danny clapped his hands.  "Yes, we'll take 'em!" he exclaimed with a fist pump. "I'll make head cheese.  I  love head cheese.  I can teach some of the guys how to make it too.  It'll be a great learning experience and delicious too."

Chef Danny at work at Walden House
The day before....
"I work for Taylor Collaboration, a medical lab that tests and creates artificial joints," wavered the tentative voice on the Food Runners message line.  "My company will be receiving three whole pigs tomorrow.  We only need the legs.  I was wondering if Food Runners could use the rest.  It would be a crime to throw so much good food away when there are so many folks in need.  The pigs come to us already hung and butcher ready.   They just need a place to go where there's a professional cook who knows how to handle them."  Wow.  Whole pigs.  A Food Runners first.

The joint lab at Taylor Collaboration
The next day....
"Do you have any idea how big these things are?" Food Runners truck driver Dave pronounced into the phone when he first laid eyes on the pigs.  "They must weigh 150 pounds a piece!  Good thing I have Jim  today."  Dave was referring to volunteer assistant Jim who was helping out on the Food Runners truck that day to fulfill his Project 20 community service hours.  "What a great way to do my hours," Jim exclaimed.  "Food Runners is always such an adventure. You never know what you're going to get.   Picking up the pigs was awesome."

Three Little Pigs
A week later...
In an email from Chef Danny...  "Thanks for the pigs.  They went a long way and fed a lot of people.  All of our programs got some.  Walden House loves Food Runners."

A month later...
"Hi it's Peter from Taylor Collaboration again," came a familiar voice on the Food Runners message line.  "Remember me?  I'm the one who called a month ago with the whole pigs.  We're getting three more next Tuesday.  Can you do this again?" We can and we did.  Side of bacon anyone?

Nutritious food is still being thrown away every day in San Francisco.  Did you know that 1 in 4 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 car ride away and a phone call away. 415-929-1866.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Six Days a Week

Food Runners volunteer Vivi B. never thought of herself as anything more than an average citizen.  In possession of a halo of white hair, a deep no-nonsense voice and a commanding don't-mess-with-me attitude, Vivi was the stuff of volunteerism legend.  While vehemently eschewing help for herself under any circumstances, she lived to help others. Here's how she did it at Food Runners:  

Vivi's beloved Noe Valley Bakery
Everyone at Noe Valley Bakery knew Vivi. Six days a week, at 8:30AM,  Vivi would park her old beater sedan out front on 24th Street before breezing by the patrons waiting in line for morning muffins and coffee. Six days a week at 8:30AM, Vivi would sail through the shop to the kitchen,  then through the kitchen to the storage area out back, grabbing a cart on the way. Six days a week, Vivi would pile the cart high with knotted bags filled with the day old pastries and bread left there specifically for Food Runners. Once she had the day-olds on the cart, she'd go back through the kitchen retrieving the set-aside-for-Food-Runners cakes and pies that were on or just past their sell-by dates but still beautiful, safe and delicious. When she'd collected all the donations, she'd wheel the cart to her car and load up. The donations often filled the entire trunk and back seat. Six days a week, Vivi drove the goods around town to various agencies feeding the hungry. Agencies like Ozenam Reception Center in SOMA (now closed), Martin DePorres in Potrero, Day Labor in the Mission and the Wednesday Night Supper Program at the Most Holy Redeemer Church in the Castro. Vivi had a different agency for each day of the week, except for any sandwiches included in the donation. The sandwiches always went to Day Labor. Vivi  kept this routine up. Six days a week.  For over twenty years.

Vivi's beloved Day Labor
"I slipped and fell while putting the bags in the car today," came the fateful call one afternoon about three years ago. "I broke my wrist and I can't drive or lift anything for a while. Can you get someone to do my runs?  I'll be back as soon as I can." Vivi tried to come back after her wrist had healed, but being of advanced age, an age she would never reveal, other health issues like unsteadiness on her feet began to take their toll. After her active volunteering days came to an end, Vivi remained a welcome fixture at Food Runners bi-annual, volunteer appreciation parties even though she hated needing a ride  when she was no longer able to drive herself.  It never occurred to her that it was an honor, not a burden,  for her fellow volunteers to escort her to the events.

Giving.  What Vivi liked doing best.
Vivi passed away peacefully on April 17th. Her niece reports that Vivi was almost 90. Vivi would no more allow pictures of herself doing food runs than she would allow herself to be called a hero.  Yet, to those who knew her and were touched by her acts of kindness, Vivi was a hero indeed.  Whenever Food Runners volunteers go out on a run, Vivi is there. Watching and smiling her wry, Vivi smile. Vivi will be forever in our Food Runners hearts. 

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 at 415-929-1866.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Kid's Stuff

Have you seen what's being served for lunch at some of San Francisco's private schools? 
Picking up at Cathedral School
On Tuesday, the Hamlin School  served up vegetarian tortilla soup, tofu Adobo, steamed brown rice, glazed snap peas and Israeli cous cous salad.   Last Wednesday, Cathedral School for Boys dished out whole wheat quesadillas with smoky pinto beans and Mexican rice.  Next Thursday, St. Ignatius College Prep will feature BBQ beef tri-tip on ciabatta with corn on the cob and Greek salad. 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 there.  "The Reuben sandwiches I picked up today looked amazing," he continued.  "And there were so many of them.  I filled my trunk."
Delivery to Thrive House
"My car smelled so yummy after my food run to Hamlin School on Monday," remarked volunteer Amy H.  "There must have been 50 pounds of fresh home-made macaroni and cheese in that box. Nothing Kraft about it!  Thank goodness for  Sous Chef "Spoon." No way could I have gotten that box to the car myself."

"It was so great, the time I  picked up at the Bay School," marveled volunteer Ashely R. who stepped in for Bay School regular runner Eloise J. one Friday.  "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?"
Lunch at the Bay School

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 as much as possible of the kid friendly, nutritious food donations from schools like Cathedral, Sacred Heart, Hamlin, the Bay School and St. Ignatius  to programs serving low-income youth like Thrive House, Back on Track, City Impact and more.  From kids to kids.  Perfect. 

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

Monday, March 25, 2013

Real Change

Have you ever doubted that a thoughtful group of committed citizens can change the fabric of their community?  Doubt no more.  Food Runners is the proof in the pudding.

Sister Marie Isabelle loving the day's donation
On Tuesday mornings mornings, when folks in need start lining up for a free hot lunch at Fraternite Notre Dame, the Food Runners truck is there with groceries piled high.  When Alex at Taste Catering can't stand the thought of throwing away leftover food from an event, he calls Food Runners.  Weekly donations from Food Runners help programs like the Clara House, Bayview Hunter's Point Adult Day Health, North Beach Citizens, and Potrero Hill Neighborhood House, among others, stretch their dwindling budgets by freeing up funds which can be reallocated for other necessary services. At the close of  Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday Ferry Plaza Farmers Markets, vendors can't wait to hand over their excess produce to Food Runners  rather than compost it.  

Food Runners bolsters the greater community in so many ways besides the obvious service of helping feed the estimated 160,000 plus San Franciscans who go hungry on a daily basis.  Food Runners provides an avenue for local businesses, small and large, like Trader Joe's, Da Bettina Catering, Leadbetter's, the White Swan Inn, Heroku and so many more, to help alleviate waste while keeping costs down at the same time.  Food Runners keeps over two tons of edible food per week out of the trash at no cost to the donor. 

Unloading the Taste Catering donation at Potrero Hill Neighborhood House
Another way in which Food Runners enriches the community is by offering citizens the opportunity to help their neighbors.   Dr. Martin Luther King once said, "everyone can be great because anyone can serve."  Food Runners volunteers live Dr. King's words every time they sally forth on a food run.  If you have ever performed community service, you already know what Food Runners volunteers know which is, that community service is as important, if not more so, to the person who serves as it is to the recipient. In addition to plain old feeling good, volunteering can also be thought of in terms of monetary benefits to the community.  Based on Volunteering in America's  figure of volunteer time in California being worth $24.18 per hour, Food Runners clocks in at contributing over $3 million dollars to the city of San Francisco in calendar year 2012.  Raindrops fall alone, but together they can cause a flood.

Collecting donations at the Tuesday Ferry Plaza Farmers Market
Food Runners founder and Executive Director Mary Risley stated it best when she said, "I don't know how to help the world, but I know how to help my neighbor."  Example is contagious.

Is your kid's school having an auction this spring? Do you know where the excess food will go at the end of the event?  Food Runners would love to pick up the leftovers and make sure they get delivered to an agency feeding those in need. Call 415-929-1866 to make arrangements.  It only takes a moment.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Pizza Party

Volunteer Dave R. first met Todd on the tennis court when he joined a match as a doubles partner of a mutual friend.  "Heck of a good tennis player," marveled Dave of Todd.  Over the course of several matches, Dave discovered that Todd was the CEO of Extreme Pizza.  "What do you do with your leftovers," the ever intrepid Food Runner Dave asked.  Before Todd even answered, Dave threw in that Amici's East Coast Pizzeria, where he'd filled in on a food run a few times, was donating ten pizzas per week as a participant in Food Runners planned overage program.  That got Todd to thinking.  It was just before the holidays and Todd had been working with ReachLocal on some online holiday marketing strategies for Extreme Pizza.  The final plan was simple.  It involved a gift card distributed to businesses and friends selected by Extreme Pizza that, when used, guaranteed that Extreme Pizza would donate to charity, pizza equal in amount to the amount purchased with the gift card.  Extreme Pizza's charity of choice was Food Runners. The cards got swiped.  The holiday pizza parties raged.  The totals were calculated.  Starting this week, Extreme Pizza is donating ten pizzas per week to Food Runners until the end of July.  

And, who doesn't love pizza?....  The tenants at Veteran's Commons, a brand new supportive housing building for homeless and disabled vets (enjoying their grand opening ceremonies on the very day of this writing), were thrilled when Cina, a Food Runners volunteer on her very first food run, arrived with the first Extreme Pizza delivery Monday afternoon.  "Really?  This is for us?" a staff member at Veteran's Commons reported a surprised client saying.  "The tenants were thrilled," the staff member continued.  "A roof over their heads and food too! Thank you from all of us.  This is wonderful. I can't tell you how much this helps, not only for the obvious reason of getting enough to eat, but for reasons of spirit as well."

In other Food Runners/pizza partnerships... 

It's 3:30PM on a Tuesday at Booker T. Washington Community Service Center.  The kids shuffle in after a long day at school: kindergartners to high schoolers, about 50 in total.  The majority in the program are from low-income families.  They all have homework.  All of them are hungry.  The front door opens and in walks a Food Runners volunteer with ten, stacked-high boxes of freshly made pizza from Amici's East Coast Pizzeria.  "Tuesday is everyone's favorite day at Booker T.," smiles staff member Irene.  "From the kids to their parents.  The kids get food they need and because of the food, they concentrate better on their homework.  The parents love that.  And they love that they get to save a little money on food too.  Booker T. loves Food Runners!"

The request for Food Runners pick ups at Escape from New York Pizza in the Mission comes in on random days, twice a week on average.  Sometimes more. The donation usually consists of 3-4 boxes filled with slices of many varieties. "We never know when the pizza will be coming, but it's always welcome," states Patricia B., program coordinator for the after school program at nearby John O'Connell High School.  "Have you ever seen the program provided 'snack?'  It's not enough to feed a mouse let alone a teenager.  Lots of my kids don't get enough to eat on a regular basis, so this pizza makes a big difference. Helps with homework focus too. Thank you Food Runners.  You are contributing to higher education through satisfied bellies!"

"The pizzas, when they come,  are the best part of the deliveries," notes Talkline Family Support Center of the pies that often come in the Thursday morning donations from Arizmendi Bakery, picked up and delivered by rotating Food Runners volunteers.  "The pizzas are great for the stressed out, low-income and no-income parents we work with.  Rib-stickin' and tension relievin'.  Parents who've had enough to eat are better equipped to handle their kids without lashing out.  It's Food Runners to the rescue on Thursdays!"

What's your local pizza joint doing with the unsold slices at the end of the night?  Could they package them up for Food Runners like Escape from New York does?  Next time you're out enjoying a wedge of cheesy goodness, ask.  Tell them to call Food Runners at 415-929-1866.  A little pizza can go a long way for someone who doesn't get enough to eat.  

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

A Very Good Year

Happy New Year! Traffic is worse than ever. Rents are sky high and getting tickets to any kind of function in town is impossible. All because business is booming. San Francisco is on a roll. A big one.  Start ups, social media and other tech companies continue to flock the to City by the Bay in record numbers. Fortunately for Food Runners, the growth of the local technocracy has meant more food available for donation. A good thing too, since, along with tech jobs and rents, hunger in San Francisco is on also the rise. The "senior tsunami" continues to swell, in addition to which, many average folks are having a hard time making ends meet as San Francisco's cost of living spirals ever upward. Food Runners is in the trenches daily helping to stem the tide. Check out Food Runners top 10 highlights from 2012. 

Start-up lunch leftovers plated and ready to serve at Community Focus
10) T-SHIRTS TOO: Guillermo Alberto Ramos Espinoza of Kensington, MN won the 2012 SF Men's Urbanathlon held on Sunday November 18th, crossing the finish line with a final time of 1:04:43. After the race was over, done and wrapped, another kind of winning took place. Food Runners volunteer Sam E. showed up at Marina Green to pick up the leftover food: bananas, oranges, power bars and the like. Along with the food, the event donated a huge box of red, Urbanathlon t-shirts. The clients at City Team couldn't believe their luck. Full bellies and something clean and dry to wear. All in a day's work!

9) TEACH YOUR CHILDREN WELL:  You're never too young to perform community service. On March 29th, the Town School second grade class prepared approximately 50 bagged lunches for donation. On October 30th, the St. Finn Barr School third grade class baked 100 kid sized loaves of bread for donation. Both donations were picked up by Food Runners volunteers. Both donations went to programs serving children in need. From kids to kids. A perfect circle.

8)  DINE, DANCE, DONATE:  Have you ever attended an event at the Julia Morgan Ballroom? It's so swank. It's so elegant! And starting this holiday season, it's so community focused. On November 27th, Mike at the Ballroom answered the phone and listened to the Food Runners appeal to never throw away edible food. The next day, Mike sent Food Runners a schedule of all the Julia Morgan holiday events at which he suspected there would be leftovers. Food Runners volunteers picked up from more than a dozen Julia Morgan functions in the month of December. That's whatchya call swellegant!

7)  SPECIALLY FOR DONATION:   25 Lusk, a gorgeous SOMA spot to dine, joined the  rarified world of Food Runners "planned overage" donors. Once a week, 25 Lusk prepares a delicious, nutritious entree specifically for donation to Food Runners. The offering usually serves approximately 20-30 people. The pans are so heavy with the marvelous smelling concoction, that regular volunteer Wanda C's arms get tired transporting the food from the 25 Lusk's kitchen to her car. The tenants at the Washburn Residence love Wednesday nights.

6) TWO FOR THE PRICE OF ONE: Oracle World/Dream Force. Dream Force/Oracle World. Ellison/Benioff. Benioff/Ellison. Ah! It was conventions wars and the big winner was... Food Runners. Where there used to be one huge, food producing convention in the fall, now there are two. For ten beautiful days bridging the last week of September through the first week in October,  Food Runners was cross-eyed busy transporting excess food to those in need. Donations included over 1,000 boxed lunches per day on convention days, as well as large donations of catered food leftover from evening social events. It positively rained food during Dream Force and Oracle World. A little competition goes a long way. Thanks Larry and Marc!

5)  FOOD RUNNERS ELVES AID SANTA:  Santa lives in SF in the body of Chef Tim Stewart at McCall's Catering. For the second year in a row, Tim has used his culinary expertise along with the vast McCall's kitchen, to prepare Christmas Dinner for for 400 for the Sisters of  Fraternite Notre Dame to serve at their tiny soup kitchen located on one of the toughest blocks in the Tenderloin. Food Runners got into the act last year by connecting Tim with the Sisters and, this year, by sending volunteers Karyn, Jane, Lara and Alexa to transport Tim's beautiful dinner from the McCall's kitchen to Fraternite Notre Dame where is was cherished and enjoyed by a very needy population.

Volunteer Jane S. loading Chef Tim's Christmas dinner for transport.
4)  START-UPS DISCOVER FOOD RUNNERS:  It started in June with a call from Zero Cater. Almost overnight, the entire start-up community became aware of Food Runners. Suddenly, beginning at 1:30 every afternoon, the calls for pick ups just kept coming in as they continue to do to this day. Bright Media, Apartment List, Heroku, Rally, MoPub, Mochi Media, Luvocracy, Mocana,  Square, SauceLabs, Ampush...phew! The list goes on. And the food is gurrrrrr-REAT!!! The start-up culture takes care of its peeps and cares about the community too. The recipients at places like Cameo House,  which offers supportive, transitional housing to single mothers, love it when a Food Runners volunteer pulls up laden with start-up company lunch leftovers.

3) AMAZING CREW: The Food Runners volunteer crew is stronger than ever. Food Runners volunteers are an amazing group of citizens dedicated to helping their neighbors in need. From the mini crews like Dawn/Dede/Mary/Lisa who meet each other on weekend mornings to collect grocery store loads too large for a single car, to the foot soldiers like Frances C. and Sam H. who are game enough to brave Friday afternoon SOMA traffic on a weekly basis, to volunteers like Florence G. who will go anywhere anytime, to super mensches like Keith G. and Erik G. who volunteer to drive the Food Runners truck for massive pick ups on a regular basis - Food Runners volunteers are performing much needed service. All the volunteers, whether they go out once a year or multiple times per week are making a difference. Food Runners could not exist without them.

Volunteer William N. on weekly pick up at Garden for the Environment.
2)  FOOD RUNNERS TURNS 25:  Twenty-five years ago Food Runners founder Mary Risley had a beautiful, simple idea. Following a class she'd just taught at her own Tante Marie's Cooking School, rather than throwing away the wedding cakes her students had just baked, she piled them in her car and drove them to Glide Memorial Church where they were received with smiles and great appreciation. In that moment, Mary thought, "If I can do this, anyone can." Hence, Food Runners was born. 25 years later, Mary's beautiful, simple idea boasts over 250 volunteers, almost 600 donors and over 200 recipients. "I don't know how to fix the world's problems," Mary often says, "but I do know how to help my neighbor." 

1) THE GREATEST GIFT:  What's Food Runners greatest gift? Getting the food to those in need, of course, but perhaps something more.... From Food Runners volunteer Cheryl H. reporting on her Boxing Day run, 2012:  "Good day today on the food run with first-time runners, nephew Luca, neice, Analisa and Sabrina [daughter], who loved showing her cousins her favorite pick up routes from White Swan to Marine's Memorial's top floor restaurant. This year, we decided no gifts, but instead to enjoy doing a food run together. We filled the station wagon with boxes of food for North Beach Citizens.  We found parking right in front. The workers and the clients were so grateful to receive everything we brought them. Boxing Day became filled with a whole new meaning...!"

Sabrina teaching cousins the Food Runners ropes.
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 415-929-1866.  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!