Food Runners

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The Gift of Food

The parties!  The galas!  The food!  Soooo much food. The Halloween costumes are stashed.  The plastic skeletons put away until next year.  Aunt Isabel is rifling through the cedar chest in search of the damask table cloth big enough for the family table when all the leaves are inserted.  Cousin Matt and his sister Cee have been planning the Thanksgiving menu since July.  Candied yams or plain? Traditional stuffing or Cajun style? Visions of fat breasted birds roasted to perfection dance through our heads along with thoughts of the lobster canapes and other delectables bound to turn up at all those swell holiday soirees where gowns sparkle, jewels glitter and revelers revel until the wee hours. The Season of Excess is upon us. Excess for many of us, maybe. But what about the estimated 1/4 of San Francisco's population that struggles to feed themselves and their families on a daily basis?  That's approximately 190,000 San Franciscans facing the threat of hunger everyday.  It 's not The Season of Excess for them.

Holiday gala excess on its way to folks in need
That's where Food Runners comes in because The Season of Excess is also The Season of Giving. At Food Runners, The Season of Giving lasts 365 days a year, of course, but happily for Food Runners, donations roll in at greater  than normal volume duirng the holidays when those in need often feel the pinch the most. Donations like the 200 brown bag lunches prepared two Thanksgivings in a row by groups of USF students who care. Donations like the the delicious array of cakes, pies and pastries donated annually on Thanksgiving Eve and Christmas Eve by Noe Valley Bakery. In addition, grocery stores like Trader Joe's and Whole Foods donate mind-boggling amounts of "spoils" over the holidays.  "Spoils" is grocery store insider lingo for food such as produce that may be slightly damaged or food such as dairy that may be on or just past its "sell by" date.  Food that can no longer be sold, but is perfectly safe and edible making it eligible for donation.

Annual holiday baked good donation
Food Runners volunteers relish the holiday season. Showing up with food for those in need is gratifying at anytime of the year, but showing up during the holidays with carloads of food twice their normal size is positively heart expanding. In the words of Food Runners founder Mary Risley, “The volunteers who pick up and deliver the food have an immediate sense of helping others at the most fundamental level. And the recipients have tangible proof that their fellow San Franciscans really care.” What could be more in the holiday spirit?

Want to join the fun?  There  are many ways to donate to Food Runners during the holiday season.
  • Become a Food Runners volunteer.  Bet you'll get hooked!
  • Out of town or no time to run food?  Make a financial donation.
  • Donate food. Although Food Runners does not pick up from private homes, we will happily direct you to an agency serving those in need in your area.
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. Give the gift of food to those who need it most.

The Season of Giving at work all year long.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Team Work

The kids had a ball.  As did their parents.  As did Sam.  As did Frank.  Food Runners volunteers often work alone for the common good of the greater community.  But not always.  See what happens when volunteers team up.  Even more good.  Even greater community. Even more fun! 

Team at Work
"Neither Seth nor I can do our Ferry Building Farmers Market run this week," Keith told dispatch a few weeks ago.  "Please find replacements for us."  Done. Sam volunteered to drive the Food Runners truck but, his left  foot was in a cast rendering it impossible for him to make the rounds collecting vendor's donations as is the protocol.  Driving only for Sam. Food collectors needed. Enter volunteers Karyn and Julien and their kids. "Great fun at the farmers market pick up  on Saturday," raved Frank who assists Keith and Seth regularly and was on site to help direct that day. "Karyn and Julien brought their children which made it special – Sam was great – what an upbeat nice guy! They all made the substitute runner experience a real blast! And an efficient one at that." Go team!

Julien Making the Rounds
"Our truck 'as an oil leak.  It will be in zee shop tomorrow," stated Sister Marie Benedict of Fraternite Notre Dame in her beautiful French accent. "We need 'elp bringing zee food and zee tables to and from United Nations Plaza for zee Tuesday night dinner outside." No problem. Food Runners made arrangements for transportation aid in a flash.  The Food Runners truck arrived at Fraternite at 3PM.  Jose, the driver, helped the Sisters load their equipment and food into the truck for the short ride to the UN Plaza.  Food Runners returned to the scene at 6PM in the form of a volunteer in a station wagon who happily transported Sister Marie Benedict and the greatly reduced load back to Fraternite Notre Dame. The Sisters passed out over 200 dinners in the plaza that evening thanks in part to the assistance of Food Runners.  Go team!

"We're at the finish line of the Nike Women's Marathon in Marina Green," explained Rocco of Morningstar Farms last Sunday morning at 11 o'clock.  "We have 50 trays of burritos and 80 cases of  frozen vegetarian sausage patties along with the buns to go with them. They won't let vehicles into the area until 3. We'd hate to see all this go to waste. Can Food Runners pick it up?"  Food Runners sprang into action.  At 3PM sharp, three Food Runners volunteers arrived at Marina Green ready to rumble. "Wow," muttered all three when they saw the amount of food. "We need a bigger boat," they collectively thought.  But, 20 minutes later, to everyone's astonishment, everything was loaded up and ready for delivery.  "I'm always amazed at how much food I can fit in my car," stated volunteer William as he stuffed one last case of patties into his mid-sized sedan. "You just have to get creative,"  William concluded.  With that, three cars riding low under the weight of the donations, headed over the hills to their delivery destinations in the Tenderloin, SOMA, Bayview and the Mission.  "The burritos were fantastic," reported Sadie from Ellis Street Senior Community.  "There were enough for everyone to take two.  Dinner today and dinner tomorrow. Dinner that some of the residents wouldn't have at all without Food Runners. Such a blessing, Food Runners.  Thank you." Go team. 

Burritos, burritos, burritos!!
Alexander the Great said, "Remember, upon the conduct of each depends the fate of all." Nothing could be truer at Food Runners: whether working alone or in groups.  Go Team!

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. 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

The Great, Greater Technosphere

The office is airy.  It's bright.  The ceilings soar. Industrial light fixtures hang from exposed metal girders. A white reception desk topped with brushed steel rises from spotless wood flooring.  In the waiting area, two enormous, deep leather chairs promise to make any wait time incurred feel like a trip to the spa.  A state of the art kitchen stands towards the back opposite a play area where two calculatedly disheveled young men engage in a casual game of ping-pong.  A similarly styled colleague sways gently in a nearby wicker swing observing the afternoon match. The clack of fingertips tapping on computer keys wafts through the doorway of a large open room filled with round desks, monitors and multitudes of 'team members' staring intently at screens.  Welcome to the new age work world where all the comforts of home are at your fingertips, including your meals.

Free meals make employees happy. And happiness translates into increased productivity. 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."

Typical donation from 1st year (2009) of our 1st tech company ever: Zynga.
All this in-house meal service makes for a Food Runners bonanza in the form of leftovers upon leftovers upon leftovers --  day in, day out.  From well established megasaurs like Twitter, Zynga and Cisco Meraki, who serve in state-of-the-art corporate cafeterias, to smaller firms like Open DNS (described above) Udemy, Zephyr Health, ZenPayroll, Sauce Labs and Venmo just to name a few, who order in catered meals on a regular basis.

Typical Cisco/Maraki donation
"We held a mini-hackathon yesterday and it was impossible to know how many people would show up," stated the office manager at a sleek SOMA start-up.  Result:75 individually wrapped sandwiches donated to Food Runners.

"We order catered lunch daily," explains MR from a start up on the other side of Market.  "There are 47 people in the office and we order for all 47 everyday. But then people get called to away to lunch meetings or are on a diet or just don't care for the meal du jour.  I'm so glad that Food Runners can get the excess food to where it's needed."  Result: 3-5 trays of meal o' day donated to Food Runners.

"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 company.  "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.  Result: an average of 10-20 trays (equivalent to 50-100 meals) donated to Food Runners daily, M-F.

20 trays looks like this!
Starting at around 1:30 every weekday afternoon, the tech company pick up requests flood in fast and furious. These requests are in addition to the already established standing pick up orders at firms like NerdWallet, Crowdtilt, Heroku and many more. All in all, Food Runners is picking up and delivering an average of 500-750 meals from tech companies on a daily basis.  Wow!  And the food... the food is gurrrrrr-REAT!!! When San Francisco's tech companies call Food Runners, they are shining stars in taking good care of their community. Food Runners recipients like City Team, who serves free dinner, Tu-Sat to anyone who shows up at their doorstep located in the heart of the 6th Street corridor, loves it when a Food Runners pulls up laden with tech company leftovers. Food Runners and San Francisco's tech companies:  a partnership made in heaven!

Food Runners Cargo Bike Full of Tech Company Donations
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.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Beautiful Girl

She's taller.  She's stronger.  She's younger.  She's prettier. No. It's not Kate Upton supplanting Heidi Klum in the pages of Vogue or Jennifer Lawrence outshining Renee Zellweger on the silver screen. It's Food Runners brand new truck.  Purchased in June, thanks to a generous grant from Genentech, the new truck hit the road on July 26th.  All 16' x 7' x 13' of her.  Beautifully detailed and painted with the Food Runners logo and brand new slogan, "delivering excess food." Wave and smile next time you see her about town.
Ain't she a beauty?
Keith G. is ecstatic.  He was instrumental in the truck's selection as well as in directing the specifications for the truck's custom shelving that enables Food Runners to pick up large quantities of prepared food packed for safe transport in foil hotel pans. "The new truck is so much smoother than the old truck and having the shelving on both sides instead of one, allows us to store more food."

Keith should know.  He drives the truck every Saturday to the Ferry Building Farmers Market where he and his assistant, Seth A, make the rounds collecting excess produce from the vendors.  You can hear Keith's cry, "bring out your food!" each week at 2PM at the close of the market. This time of year is peak season often netting over 1,500 pounds of gorgeous, farm fresh produce to be delivered to San Franciscans in need.  Keith's entire pick up/delivery route takes 3-4 hours. Keith has been doing the Saturday Ferry Building Farmers Market run for over 20 years.  Keith is a volunteer!

Shelving on both sides!! Volunteer Sam L. loading up.
So, what happened to the old truck? Food Runners Executive Director Mary Risley donated it to the Sisters at Fraternite Notre Dame, a tiny soup kitchen doing big things on one of the worst blocks in the Tenderloin.  Sister Marie Benedict (the tall one) and Sister Marie Bernadette (the petite one), work tirelessly to serve 300 meals per day, Monday through Wednesday in their itty-bitty dining room on Turk Street.  On Tuesday evenings, you can find the Sisters serving meals to the homeless outdoors at United Nations Plaza.  The Sisters have been in need of a large vehicle for a very long time in order to transport food and supplies for their weekly outreach programs in areas like Bayview/Hunter's Point. Through Mary's generosity, Food Runners was able to answer the Sister's prayers.  

Mary handing the old truck and pink slip over to Sister Marie Benedict
The new truck is a benefit to all. It looks great. It drives great. Food Runners truck drivers love it, and, more importantly, the new truck is able to transport more food than ever before. As the cost of living in San Francisco continues to increase, so does the need. Food Runners is there. With over 250 volunteers, a bike courier and a brand new truck.  Delivering excess food.

Got bike? Got bike trailer? Or know anyone who does?  Tell them about Food Runners. The "new wave" is here. Food Runners is seeking volunteers with bike trailers to pick up food in congested downtown areas where car parking is non-existent.  Get some exercise and feed the hungry in one fell swoop.  Lots of amazing food out there ready to be donated.  Lots of smiles to be collected upon delivery to folks in need.  Volunteer here or call 415-929-1866. Best phone call ever!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Lazy Days of Summer

"How much is that sweatshirt in the window," asked the shivering, tank-topped lady from Iowa while waiting for the cable car at Union Square. "No one told me it would be so cold here." Welcome to summer in San Francisco. It's cold. It's gray. It's windy. All summer long. But not at Food Runners where great summer events keep things hot, hot, hot.

"You mean "BEER" Fest, right?" That's what everyone says.  No.  It's "BREAST" Fest.  Fer real.  It IS a beer festival, but it's all about helping the Charlotte Maxwell Clinic, a state licensed non-profit clinic offering alternative medical treatments for low-income women diagnosed with breast cancer. It's a wonderful party and Food Runners will be on hand at the Fort Mason Festival Pavilion the night of July 12th to pick up Breast Fest's excess food.

Breast Fest @ Fort Mason Festival Pavillion
Food Runners will be back at Fort Mason the first weekend in August to pick up the delectables leftover from Eat Drink SF, San Francisco’s annual food, wine and spirits festival (formerly known as SF Chefs). Imagine the homeless women resting on their pallets-for-a-night at A Woman's Place feasting on lobster rolls at midnight as the fog horns moan over the bay.  That's the kind of music this epic foodie festival and will Food Runners make together.

The music continues when, by noon on August 8th, throngs of people will stream into Golden Gate Park. Over amped strains of rock n' roll will shatter the relative peace of the neighborhoods west of Crossover Drive.  Outside Lands 2014 will be underway. Three loud, crowded days of it.  An average of 60,000 concert goers are expected to attend each day. That's a lot of people in need of food. Food that will be supplied by vendors like Escape from New York Pizza4505 Meats, DeLessio Market & Bakery and many, many more. In addition, the festival's artists and tech crew of over 150 require three full meals daily which will be catered to perfection by Chef's Touch Catering. All put together,  there will be mountains of food likely to generate mountains of leftovers; all to be picked up by Food Runners.  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 excited be to be partnering with Food Runners for the fourth year in a row.

Picking up the  donations at Outside Lands
On the other side of town...  the very next weekend...  Food Runners volunteers will be on scene at the close of La Cocina's fifth annual Street Food Festival. This event once again promises excellent donations from the many vendors participating. Last year's donations totaled three vans full of fantastic food.  Eager volunteers happily picked up the donations for delivery to agencies serving those in need including HCHS Mother Brown's Dining Room, Fraternite Notre Dame, Martin DePorres, City Team and more. 

One van load of La Cocina Street Food Festival donations, 2013
Get out your parkas and rub your cold hands together for another amazing San Francisco summer of food.  If you know of events where food plays a part, call Food Runners. 415-929-1866.  Food Runners will make sure that excess food from this summer's events stays out of the compost bin and gets to people who need it most. Food Runners is a simple way to warm up San Francisco's famously frigid "fog days of summer."

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Don't Stop the Rain

California may be in the midst of a severe drought, but Food Runners is not.  At Food Runners, these days, the adage is more akin to, "when it rain, it pours."

Large Tech Company Donation Ready for Pick Up
75 sandwiches from the DeYoung Cafe here.  Catered food for 100 from Foxtail Catering there. A complete Mexican spread from Xamarin.  A Thai feast with all the fixin's from Craigslist.  Peruvian dinner delights from Go-Daddy. At Heroku, trays and trays full of the healthiest of healthy dishes you've ever seen, using only the finest locally grown ingredients.  From Whole Foods, an entire grocery cart's worth of packaged strawberries still pretty and ripe enough to feed school children. At Moscone West gallons and gallons of fresh milk. From Amici's East Coast Pizzeria, ten pizzas prepared especially for donation to Food Runners. All this and much, much more in a typical day's donations.

How does all this food get picked up and delivered?  Volunteers, of course.  If you've ever wondered whether or not a small group of committed citizens can meaningfully change their community, wonder no more. Food Runners volunteers are doing it every day!

Loading the Donations at Whole Foods Noe Valley
On Saturday mornings, hours before folks start lining up for a free meal at City Team, Food Runners volunteers Dawn and Dede are there in a car bursting with donations that provide the majority of ingredients for that very meal.  Volunteer Patty B starts her weekend at 6:30AM every week by picking up and delivering an SUV full of donated groceries to a subsidized housing apartment building serving low-income seniors and disabled. When Patrick at Fork and Spoon Catering can't stand the thought of throwing away food leftover from an event, he's on the phone to Food Runners. Fork and Spoon is right in volunteer Karin C's neighborhood.  Karin loves picking up Fork and Spoon's delicious donations and delivering them to one or more of the small group homes in the surrounding area. Dedicated volunteers game enough to brave rush  hour traffic scoot around in congested SOMA on a daily basis picking up lunch leftovers from tech firms like Crowdtilt, Okta, Air bnb, Zynga, Open DNS, Meraki, Lookout .... the list goes on and on!

If you have ever performed community service, you already know what Food Runners volunteers know: community service is as important, if not more so, to the person who serves as it is to the recipient.  Dr. Martin Luther King said, "everyone can be great because anyone can serve."  Food Runners volunteers live a little greatness every time they perform a food run. Raindrops fall alone, but together they can cause a flood.  When it rains, it pours!

Happy Volunteer Jeri P. (in red) on Delivery at Tel Hi Neighborhood Center
Are you attending any fabulous BBQ's or weddings this summer? Ask the catering staff what's happening to the leftover food.  Tell them about Food Runners.  We'll be at the next their next event. 415-929-1866

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Getting it Done

"Good morning," Food Runners texted Erik at 8:30 on Wednesday.  "Hoping U can add a pick up @ Kasa India 2day. 1356 Polk @ Pine. Deliv 2 gents @ Rafiki Hse." "No problem," came the simple reply two minutes later.

"Hi Dave," Food Runners warbled into the phone. "Have time for a run to White Swan and Marine's Memorial on Nob Hill this morning?  Delivery is to North Beach Citizens."  "Sure," replied Dave without missing a beat.  "I love North Beach Citizens. What time?"

"I am available for a run today if you need me," penned Ernesto in an email to Food Runners on Tuesday.

"I'll go anywhere in town on a food run," informed Eloise.  "I like the variety.  Especially when it comes to meeting the recipients."

"Bring on the big grocery store runs," implored Francesca.  "I love stuffing my car to the gils.  The more the merrier and the more for folks in need. What a great operation."

Volunteer David M on pick up at Tuesday's Ferry Building Farmers Market
Volunteers. Volunteers. Volunteers.  Volunteers are what makes Food Runners happen.  Without volunteers, there would be no Food Runners.  Because of the time volunteers like Eloise spends; because of the way they care about their fellow citizens the way Francesca does; Food Runners is on pace to keep almost two million pounds of edible food out of the garbage in 2014.  That translates to over 1,600,000 meals for San Franciscans in need in this year. All because of the efforts of dedicated volunteers like Dave, Erik Eloise and Francesca. 

Food Runners is about three things.  Alleviating hunger, eradicating waste and creating community. Volunteers are the touchstone of creating that community. To be a Food Runners volunteer is to be part of something larger than oneself.  Food Runners volunteers know on a fundamental level that it's not ok for their neighbors to go hungry.  Especially in a city like San Francisco where there is so much bounty and so much good, fresh food that, without organizations like Food Runners, would  otherwise go to waste.

Donations from SF Hilton in Volunteer Julia's trunk.

April is Volunteer Appreciation Month.  A perfect time to say to Food Runners volunteers what never gets said often enough:  

And a big thank you to Food Runners founder and Executive Director, Mary Risley for acting on an "aha moment" 27 years ago while pondering the fate of seven wedding cakes leftover from a class she'd just taught at her cooking school, Tante Marie's.  In 1987, Food Runners was the pioneer of perishable and prepared food recovery. For many years, Food Runners stood alone in the mission. Today, with food waste such a hot topic, organizations like Food Runners are springing up around the country. The Food Runners model just keeps giving back.  Together, all around the nation, volunteers are getting the job done.

Look what volunteer Sam B picked up last week at DemandForce!
The  Food Runners word is out.  More and more businesses are donating. 40 new donors on board since the year began!  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.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Coming Back for More

With all the new found wealth and prosperity pouring into San Francisco, do you ever find yourself thinking about those in need?  Do you find yourself thinking about ways to give back?  Have you ever wondered about what goes on during a food run and why people become Food Runners volunteers?

Let Food Runners volunteers give you the lowdown.... the fun, the funny and the inspirational.

Betsy N and husband Robert, volunteers since November 2011:
"On the way to our pick up [Fillmore Street Farmers Market], we noticed a very low rear tire... called AAA and limped into a repair shop on Divisadero.  I explained that we had to get moving because we had to pick up food for the needy by 1PM or it would be thrown away.  When I mentioned that the food was going to Walden House, the gent dealing with our tire lit up and said he was a graduate from Asian American Recovery Services [also a Food Runners recipient] and a big fan of the Walden House program which is under the same umbrella organization as Asian American Recovery Services.  We were very worried that we'd never make it to the market in time, but we were out in 15 minutes with a fixed tire.  Oh, the power of the name of Food Runners and its beneficiaries!" 

Volunteer Robert Riding Shotgun on the Fillmore Farmers Market Run
Julie D, volunteer since January 2014:
[Julie does runs with her 7 year old son]
"I just want to say how impressed I am with all that Food Runners does. We are so grateful to be able to play a small part in Food Runners enormous good!

Ann K and husband Ed S, volunteers since November 2011:  
"I just had to share our Trader Joe's experience of today [Feb 16] and how happy it made so many people. Along with the typical mountain of food donations waiting for us at TJ's, there were 4 shopping carts completely filled with flowers left over from Valentine's Day. We delivered the food to to our usual spot where we also left several large, bouquets. The men were thrilled. One of the gents told us he was expecting his mom for a visit that day. He couldn't wait to give her flowers. We brought the remaining flowers to St. Anthony's Dining Room. There were enough to fill the vases  on all of the dinner tables and still have tons left over. I got permission from the dining room manager to give every guest a rose as they left. So many smiles, so much joy and so many people saying they couldn't remember the last time someone gave them a flower. Trader Joe's made several thousand people's day today. It was the best Valentine's Day ever even though it was no longer Valentine's Day. While the flowers may not have been food for the belly; today, we delivered food for the soul to some of the hungriest San Franciscans! Thank you for the opportunity, Food Runners."

Cart Full of Flower Donations at Trader Joe's
Mary W, volunteer since March 2013:
[on occasion that her car refused to start after she'd just loaded up a large donation at Twitter while on her regular Friday afternoon, rush hour run with delivery to Father Alfred Center, just a few blocks away]
"At Food Runners suggestion, Chef Angelo from Father Alfred sent several guys over to rescue the food.  More hands than needed, really, but I'm sure the guys didn't mind getting out for a walk.  A stellar gesture on their part and one that likely makes me the Worst. Runner. Ever. I can't believe they had to pick the food up from ME! I will have to figure out a way to make it up to those guys. On the good news end, no car problems on my earlier run.  Community Focus positively did cartwheels over over the three big boxes of chicken from Google.  As for ole Otto (my car), it took awhile, but I was finally able to get a tow. Thank you for your quick thinking, Food Runners.  The food got to where it was needed even in the face of disaster and that's what matters most." 

KM at donor LendingHome about Micki E and husband Nadie, volunteers since October 1987:
[regarding the first ever pick up at LendingHome]
"The two food runners who came today absolutely touched my heart! I was blown away by how kind and wonderful they were. It was truly amazing getting a chance to meet them! They told me a little bit about the food drop off that they do in the Tenderloin [the Aarti] and I instantly wanted to know more! Since first connecting with Food Runners last week, I have just had a smile on my face every time I think about what  Food Runner does."

Volunteering for Food Runners Looks Like This
Nutritious food is still being thrown away every day in San Francisco.  Did you know that approximately 160,000 San Franciscans don't have enough to eat on a daily basis?  Tell your friends and local businesses with food about Food Runners.  Helping to alleviate hunger and prevent waste is just a phone call away at 415-929-1866.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Shining Star

Mary loading up at the Castro St Farmers Market
Mary R:  all trim, 5' and a smidge tall of her. Weighing in at little more than an average twelve year old girl might, Mary's slim shoulders could easily fit through through the doorway to a child's playhouse. Strawberry bangs. Dancing hazel eyes. A big, infectious smile. Mary R: a pixie in stature, but a powerhouse in capability, strength and spirit. In the food business since the age of 15, Mary watched food go to waste on a regular basis for years.  It  drove her crazy until one day...  

"I was on my morning jog in 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."

Mary collecting donations at the Castro St Farmer's Market
History indeed. Mary signed on as a Food Runners volunteer that day.  Within a ten days of performing her first food run, Mary volunteered for a weekly run to the Castro Street Farmers Market. Every Wednesday evening, as the sun set over Twin Peaks, Mary and her partner Jonathan gathered donations of farm fresh produce offered by the market's vendors. The donations routinely filled Mary's car to bursting. Mary and Jonathan joyfully delivered the bounty to the Father Alfred Center in SOMA. Mary kept the Castro Street Farmer's Market run for two and a half years.  When a new job changed Mary's schedule, rendering it impossible to continue with the Castro Street Market, she immediately signed up for a new run.  Every Saturday morning, she and fellow volunteers Dawn D, Dede T and Lisa M would meet at Whole Foods Potrero where the typical weekend donations require several cars to accommodate the load.  Mary did the Whole Foods run for over two years.

Mary ready to get started at Whole Foods Potrero
"Every week since I joined Food Runners," mused Mary about a year after signing up, "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, supported me." Food Runners felt humbled in return to have a citizen like Mary in its ranks.

Mary called about six months ago stating with irritation that she needed to take a Food Runners break  for a while due to health issues.  Mary passed away quietly at home last week.   In Jonathan's words,  "she passed, like she lived, with grace and dignity, surrounded by loving family members." Mary will be sorely missed by Food Runners and by the many she touched through her efforts as a Food Runners volunteer.  Farewell, lovely Mary.  Your star will shine forever bright.

Is your child's school holding an auction or other large event this spring? Do you know where the excess food will go at the end of the event?  Food Runners is available 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.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Banner Year

Traffic got worse. Rents soared out of control and the rains never came. Except at Food Runners where volunteers brave traffic with a smile, there is no rent and it positively rained food all year long. Check out Food Runners top ten highlights from 2013.

10) YEAR OF THE PIG: “I work for Taylor Collaboration, a medical lab that tests and creates artificial joints,” wavered the voice on the Food Runners message line in early April. “We will be receiving three whole pigs tomorrow. We only need the legs.  I was wondering if Food Runners could use the rest." Yes!! Food Runners knew just where the critters would be put to good use, feeding a lot of people in need.  "This is great," exclaimed Danny H, the head chef at Walden House. "Three pigs will go a long way. Thanks Food Runners. We love you.”

3 Little (big) Pigs
9) EARL OF SANDWICH:  Picket signs were bobbing in front of UCSF Medical Center when volunteer Food Runners volunteer Bruno Z. pulled up on May 21st. The protest organizers had over ordered lunch to the tune of 200 extra boxed lunches. "You should have seen the faces of the intake staff at Homeless Youth Alliance where I took the first batch," Bruno chuckled. "They were ecstatic.  I got the same reaction at Haight Street Referral where I delivered the rest. I love being a Food Runner. Been loving it for over 20 years!”

8) EARL OF SANDWICH 2: “Did you say 2,500?” Food Runners asked. “Yep,” answered Chef Lance at Twitter. In July, Twitter held an in-house community service event resulting in 2,500 freshly made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Food Runners volunteers pick up them up for delivery to multiple agencies feeding the hungry including: Martin DePorres, City Team,  New Door Ventures, BAART SOMA, BAART Tenderloin, and Larkin Street Youth Services. Just another beautiful day in a beautiful city full of beautiful people who care, like Food Runners volunteers.

7) BIG BATCH:  It was hot. Even in San Francisco. Shannon called on a Sunday afternoon in mid-September to say, "I'm a vendor at the new monthly Batch Made Market. We’re going to have leftover food at 8PM.  Hope Food Runners can make it." At 8PM, Food Runners rolled up to Batch Made.  14 trays of various dishes, 6 big bags of fresh rolls, lots o’ cookies, some mini pies late and the Food Runners volunteer’s car was stuffed to the brim. Big Batch called again the next month. And the month after that... and...

6) OLE!:  The throng parted as Euna’s car crept toward the first leftovers pick up station at the La Cocina Street Food Festival in August. “Wow,” Euna exclaimed after stopping at all four stations and filling her car to bursting.  “I never expected there would be this much food! I can’t think of a better way to spend a Saturday night than doing a food run.” And it wasn't over. Food Runners returned to the La Cocina kitchen the next day for two more complete car loads of amazing food.

Viva La Cocina!
5) MARKETING GENIUS:  The first donation consisted of 100 pounds of velvety, blushing apricots. Since August, whenever they find themselves with excess food, instead of composting it, both Bi Rite Market stores have been calling Food Runners. Food Runners volunteers love going to Bi Rite. The donations are exquisite, from items like cases of hand crafted focaccia, to still crisp leafy greens, to fantastic pre-pack, deli sides of which Bi Rite donated 300+  the day after Thanksgiving.

4)  SAILING, SAILING... :  Sleek, majestic and oh, so fast! Taller than tall sail boats heeled gracefully to the west wind. The America’s Cup was in town. From June through mid-October, Levy's Restaurant, the company chosen by the America's Cup to handle food, donated hundreds of pounds of excess food at a clip following. Food Runners saw to it that the donations got to San Franciscans who needed them most.  

3)  NEW BLOOD:  Food Runners is so proud of three new agencies, based on the Food Runners model, that opened around the Bay area since June. They are:  White Pony Express serving the Contra Costa area. Peninsula Food Runners serving the greater Peninsula and ExtraFood serving Marin County.

2)  TECH EXPLOSION:  It's no secret that San Francisco is Mecca for start-ups and tech companies. Most of the tech companies routinely serve in-house catered meals to their employees. Those meals routinely generate leftovers. Lots of leftovers. Food Runners currently boasts over 100 tech companies on the donations roster with more than 50 of those companies donating on a regular basis.

1)  PEDAL PUSHER:  Pick up by car in SOMA, at rush hour??? Hardly an exciting proposition even for the most dedicated Food Runners volunteers. In order to meet the ever growing demand for tech company lunch leftover pick ups, which occur almost exclusively in the most heavily traveled parts of town at peak traffic hours, Food Runners employed a regular bicycle courier. Since the beginning of December, with legs pumping like pistons, the Food Runners cargo bike courier cuts a slow and steady swath through SOMA’s most congested areas on weekday afternoons between 2-6PM. The courier has increased Food Runners deliveries to San Franciscans in need by approximately 1,000 pounds  per week! More people in need getting more food. What a fantastic finish to 2013!

The Little Bicycle That Could
It's a 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!