Food Runners

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Meaningful Bonding Experience

Jerry Meisel

My name is Jerry Meisel. and I'm a single dad from San Francisco. I've been a Food Runners volunteer for six years. My son Jason started coming on runs with me when he was four years old. He is now eight and able to load and unload deliveries with me. 

It's important for me to show my son the care, concern, help and support that we can give to our neighbors in need. I try to make a difference in the community by focusing on someone other than ourselves. By giving back to the community, I can show Jason first hand how volunteering makes a difference and how good it feels to help other people. It takes us out of our daily life and demonstrates that we're all in this together and that we need to support others and make an impact on the wellbeing of those less fortunate than we are.

Through Food Runners, I have picked up food donations from restaurants, stores, markets and events and delivered to many different locations. Some fond memories include delivering to Family Crossroads, were Jason became friends with one of the boys who lives there. Since learning of Family Crossroads through Food Runners, I have also delivered children's clothes and toys there. The two boys used to play with the cars I brought and they had a great time. It meant a lot to me seeing the mother so happy for her son. 

The Sisters at Mother Theresa's Missionaries of Charity, where we often deliver, are always happy to see us when we arrive bearing food from our Food Runners pick ups.  They give both of us blessings when we leave. Picking up food donations from the Marine’s Memorial Club on Nob Hill is always an extra special treat because, besides the usual benefits of doing a food run, we get to enjoy the spectacular view from the top of the restaurant. On various other deliveries, the people that we deliver to are always happy to see us and give Jason high fives and fist bumps. It brings a smile to their faces and I see that my son gets a good feeling about himself afterwards knowing he's made a difference. Even though I've had some major setbacks over the past six years, I still find the impetus to help out others in need by being a Food Runners volunteer. It's important for me, for my son’s well being and for the well being of those we are helping who are less fortunate than we are. Thank you, Food Runners.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

My Two Runs

Sam H

I have been a Food Runner for about 8 years. It's a very important part of my life. I have 2 afternoon runs each week.

On Thursdays I pick up at Micro Tek on Merchant at Montgomery and at Kokkari Restaurant on Jackson and Front. I deliver to APWC, Asian Pacific Wellness Center on Polk between Eddy and Ellis. 
Sam receiving Kokkari donations
Sam receiving Micro Tek donations
On Fridays I pick up at Max's Market, on Pine between Montgomery and Kearny and at Craigslist on Sutter between Kearny and Grant. I deliver to the Sala Burton Manor, a residential building for low income seniors and disabled on Turk between Hyde and Larkin.
Sam receiving donations at Max' Market
At each of these stops I am greeted warmly and appreciatively, especially where I deliver. I love being a Food Runner . I know how much this organization is doing for the less fortunate among us. I've made many friends along the way on these runs, and I know that I have a part in giving back. Not only is what I do appreciated by the people I have contact with, it's a great feeling I get in being part of this organization. It's a win-win-win for the people passing on excess food, for the people receiving it and for us, as Food Runners.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Saturday Morning Special

Dawn, Dede and Lisa

We three Food Runners volunteers, Dede Tisone, Dawn Daro and Lisa Moore-Long meet every Saturday at 9:00 am at the loading dock of Whole Foods at 450 Rhode Island. The first order of business is to check the bread bin. Here we receive boxes of bread, cakes, cookies and canned items that we load that into the two cars. Then we head into the produce area to box up grocery carts of leftover grapes, containers of cut fruit, peppers and melons.  

We roll everything down the ramp on carts to our cars and head to the deli for sandwiches, soups, and salads and on to dairy for bottles and cartons of milk, cream eggs, butter and yogurt. We load all the dairy, deli and frozen food into the two cars.

Lisa, Dede and Dawn all loaded up at Whole Foods
But we aren’t done yet.  We have a second pick up at Kara’s Cupcakes main bakery at 3rd and 23rd Street.  We usually receive anywhere from 4 -20 boxes of cupcakes. These are the all-time favorite of everyone at the shelters. 

Lisa collecting cupcakes at Kara's
With our pick ups complete, Lisa heads to the St Francis Lutheran Church on Church and Market across from the Safeway.  When she arrives, she is greeted by volunteers who are always very happy to see her and help her unload the car.  After doing this run for a number of years Lisa has gotten to know the people on the receiving end well and they have become friends. 

The weekly welcome at St. Francis Lutheran Church
We, Dawn and Dede, deliver to City Team, a nondenominational non-profit with a medical clinic and clothing closet that serves the poor and the homeless in San Francisco providing dinner to men, women and children Tuesday-Friday and an “All You Can Eat” lunch on Saturdays. There are usually a few guys hanging around and that is a good thing because if the door is closed, a bell has to be rung that is above the gate and out of the reach of these ladies. Soon the door opens and the real “first” team arrives to unload the car.  This too is a good thing, because the boxes of bananas can be really heavy.  They don’t let us lift a thing, insisting that we stay where we are.  In less than 3 minutes the whole car is emptied and with many a “God Bless you” we are on our way. The three of us have been doing this run for five years.  Dede drives across town, Dawn drives from Berkeley, and Lisa from Foster City just to be able to go on this gratifying mission every Saturday morning.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

My Friday Run

Mary W.
Food Runners Volunteer since March 2013

It doesn’t always seem like the sane thing to do, my 3PM Friday afternoon Financial District food run.  Traffic on Battery Street, where I pick up, is always bumper-to-bumper starting as early as noon.  My pick up is at Lookout, a tech company specializing in predictive mobile security.  Like so many of the local tech companies, Lookout supplies their staff with in-house lunches on Fridays.  Lookout generously donates the leftovers from these lunches  to Food Runners. I volunteer as the "regular" (weekly) food runner for this run.  I've been doing the run for almost two years.

Mary loading her car at Lookout
The donations from Lookout are always amazing. I deliver the food to CATS (Community Action and Treatment Services) Eddy Street Apartments, a subsidized housing facility for low-income residents in recovery located in the Tenderloin.

425 Eddy Street
San Franciscans familiar with city streets and traffic patterns might think I'm crazy to make this trip every Friday. But, when it comes down to it,  how could I choose not to, especially since the food I'm picking up might otherwise go to waste.
Lookout donation
When I’m stuck in the Friday bumper-to-bumper mess, going nowhere fast, these inspirational words from Helen Keller often come to my mind:  

"I am only one, but I am still one.  I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; And because I cannot do everything I will not refuse to do the something that I can do."  

Food Runners is something that I can do. 
I may not have large chunks of time to commit to volunteering, but without Food Runners, fresh, nourishing resources would go to waste, instead of helping sustain my neighbors in need. One hour at 3PM every Friday to do something amazing for my community... insane?  I think not.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

My Food Runs

Tom Davis, Volunteer

Finding something my daughter Jeannie and I want to do together isn't always easy, given that I am 66 and she is 17. But we are totally "as one" when it comes to our love of doing food runs.

Saturday mornings we pull up to Kara's on Scott Street where their staff helps us load mountains of day old cupcakes into our car.   It's a cargo that gets us a warm welcome when we deliver it to the team at the Haight Ashbury Food Program.

Tom and the cupcakes
Sunday afternoons we gear up for the Fort Mason Farmer's Market run.  I say "gear up" because we begin by stocking our SUV with a hand truck, plastic bins and all the boxes and bags we can find.  Over time we have learned that we need to be well prepared given we will be collecting a lot of food in a short timeframe.  

Jeannie loading up at the Fort Mason Farmers Market
The vendors at the market are a great group.  They give us an incredible assortment of vegetables, fruit and pastries.  It fills our SUV to the top. 

Fort Mason Framers Market bounty in Tom's car
We then head over to the Veterans Academy in the Presidio, where the veterans (mostly my age) take all that they can use.  What's left we take to Walden House.   It's a fast, tiring two hours, but we love it.

Got cargo bike? Or know anyone who does?  The "new wave" is here. Food Runners is seeking volunteers with cargo bikes to pick up food in congested downtown areas where automobile parking is non-existent.  Feed the hungry, save the environment and get some exercise in one fell swoop. Sign up here or call 415-929-1866. Best phone call ever!

To donate food, post your request on our app or call 415-929-1866.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

The New Food Movement

Mary Risley, Director

Hi Everyone! Just think--it’s been over 28 years since we started picking up and delivering excess food in San Francisco – and over 12 years since Nancy started coordinating ALL these pickups and deliveries. She also has done an incredible job with her weekly emails to the Volunteers and monthly blog to all that are interested! Thank you, Nancy, for your years of hard work! Now, we are starting something new – we are asking YOU to write up your stories, and hopefully take photos, for the monthly blog – Nancy will now be the editor of the new Food Runner Volunteer Blog! What do you think of that? And, how would you like to be a contributor? Here, for you is the Newsletter (with Video and Recipe) that I sent to the followers last month – this will be the first guest blogger contribution—I hope you like it!
Okay, so Julia Child brought us French cooking in the 70’s; and Alice Waters has been an amazing inspiration to farmers, food producers, and cooks ever since; but even more important—in my opinion—is the current ground swell of passion about saving our country from the ravages of industrialized farming. Young people are advocating in many ways; including, documentaries about wasted food; hosting conferences about recovering edible food; and lots of online organizing about saving our farmlands, our resources—specifically water and oil—and preserving the earth; restoring jobs; and more important providing healthy wholesome food for Americans.

Last month I was fortunate enough to be invited to speak at two conferences on this subjects; namely, REALIZING POTENTIAL: THE FUTURE OF FOOD Hosted by Esalen and the Detente Group; COOKING FOR SOLUTIONS—Sustainable Foods Institute—at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Not only did I meet and hear from some very inspiring people, but I was really awakened to how serious a problem we have in this country. Do you know that, as one of the richest countries in the world, we, Americans, pay a smaller percentage of our income on food than any other country in the world? Since the 1950’s, Americans have gotten use to cheap food. Generally, we eat mass-produced food - often, poorly prepared - and it not good for our health or that of future generations. Furthermore, it is estimated that 40 percent of the food grown in this country is discarded!
Here’s the good news! Awareness is growing! Across the country there are groups forming to glean the excess fruits and vegetables from in the fields after the pickers have gone through. There are organizations forming to capture and sell what is called "ugly fruit" that is deemed not attractive enough to put on the grocery store shelves but it still perfectly good for eating and cooking. We have been approached by many communities in the U.S. and Canada about starting Food Runners-type organizations. That is - groups picking up excess edible perishable and prepared foods and delivering it to neighbourhood food programs. And, I have even been approached by a group eager to start a service where eaters in restaurants can purchase their entree and donate half of it to the hungry. As I have been saying for years, "There is enough food produced in this country to feed everyone; it’s a problem of distribution."

But, what can we, as consumers, do to help this New Food Movement? First of all, buy from the farmers; buy from the farmers; buy from the farmers! Organic has really lost its meaning. Big industrial farms can be called organic—for our food economy to be sustainable, we need to buy local from the people growing it in a responsible way; that is, if you don’t grow it yourself. (If you see someone at a local farmers market selling bags of oranges or cardboard crates of strawberries, they may have been purchased at the big wholesale market.) When a carton of eggs says, cage-free or free-range, the chickens still may be crowded in one huge cage or the door of the barn is open in case they want to wander out. It is best to look for eggs that are labelled pasture-raised. And, definitely look for really good quality chickens raised humanely (like the ones photographed here) - they live outdoors and eat seeds and bugs and pebbles. What about labels like Grass-Fed? Do you know most beef produced in the country is grass-fed—and it still can be finished in a feedlot eating corn. It is really important to look for beef and pork and lamb that can run free all their lives. It may cost more to eat real organic, real cage-free, and real grass -fed; but in the long run it will help with health, with preserving the earth, and with livelihoods.
The most important thing, of course, is to enjoy cooking and eating meals sitting down with family and friends. As the 350 Recipes and 35 Videos on show it is not hard to make food taste good—its way easier than getting in the car to go by food cooked by others. And, as I keep saying cooked food last much longer than people think and can be easily turned into another different meal. The fourth big source of discarded food –other than the fields, the grocery stores, the restaurants and caterers--is the home. You can easily make soup with what you have on hand as I showed with my Turkey Chile Recipe and take it to a neighbourhood soup kitchen.

Last week I was in NW Connecticut, and lucky enough to meet "the Jenkins twins" who are working at TRUELOVEFARMS.ORG – in Morris CT owned by Tom Truelove, a son of one of the twins. It was so exciting to see happy chickens outdoors and families of pigs outdoors and cows outdoors. Here for you are some photos of a real farm owned and run by real farmers. What I loved most besides meeting these dynamic women is that they had two Great White Pyrennees living with the chickens to protect them from the cayotes and wolves. Here for you is a recipe for a French dessert which is awfully fun to make—if it burns a little, just dust it with powdered sugar and say "That’s how the French like it!" And, always remember, Cooking is Fun!

Everyone usually has eggs, sugar, and some liqueur in the home; try this some evening after dinner—its delicious!

For questions or comments e-mail
For recipes go to

Monday, June 8, 2015

A Great Agency Serving North Beach

"Do you think food will be coming today," North Beach Citizens staff member Theresa inquired of Food Runners one recent Tuesday afternoon. Five minutes later, Food Runners volunteer Jim B. delivered  an unbelievable spread of fresh catered food leftover from a downtown tech company lunch.  "Steak AND chicken?!" Theresa marveled as she read the labels on the containers. "Wow. This will go a long way in keeping our clients bellies full."

Delivery by Food Runners ready for consumption at North Beach Citizens
Delivering to North Beach Citizens means a lot to Food Runners.  North Beach Citizens is a wonderful, drop-in center for the homeless founded by Francis Ford Coppola in January 2001. Through a collaboration of  North Beach residents, merchants, police and service providers, including Food Runners, North Beach Citizens helps the homeless and low income community rebuild their lives. The idea for the organization  stemmed originally from Coppola's strong feelings about panhandling.  "Panhandling is an unacceptable act for both parties." After meeting with prominent North Beach residents to discuss ways to address homelessness in the neighborhood, North Beach Citizens was born.

Miraculous resource center
Rather than simply feeding people and sending them on their way, North Beach Citizens serves as a complete resource center where the paths of people's lives are changed forever. "I first started coming because of the food," explains one 60 year old client. "But, North Beach Citizens provided me with so much more. I could use the phone. They helped me get I.D. so I could get a room. They showed me how to fill out forms for services correctly. They gave me clothes and sometimes even helped with bus fare.  North Beach Citizens saved my life, because before I started coming, I had nothing." 

"Food Runners is a huge part of our support system," reports North Beach Citizens Director, Kristie Fairchild. "The nutritious food delivered by Food Runners volunteers increases our clients health and mental clarity.  It bolsters their ability to be prepared for the kinds of appointments they need to go on in their quest to get off the streets; be they medical appointments, job interviews, meeting potential landlords and more."

Food Runners Alexa V on delivery
Food Runners and North Beach Citizens: a perfect match. Food Runners volunteers never tire of saying how meanigful delivering to North Beach Citizens is to them. And, both Food Runners and North Beach Citizens couldn't be more pleased about how working together supports an important part of the mission of both organizations which is, creating community. 

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.  Donating good food to those in need is just an app tap or  phone call away at 415-929-1866.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

How Long Does Food Last?

For your personal information, and for everyone picking up and delivering food, here is Food Runners founder Mary Risley's blog from May 2014.

How long does food last?  The truth is that most food keeps far longer than we think! Here’s what good cooks do—if they don’t grow the food themselves; they shop once – maybe twice – a week for fresh ingredients. Then, they cook during the week with what they have on hand; and save the excess to turn into another dish later in the week. After all, what is Salade Nicoise?  Salade Nicoise is not just a tuna salad from the Mediterranean—it is leftover vegetables made into a salad with tuna.  Get it?  

Here’s another truth!  Statistics tells us that most home cooks start thinking about what to have dinner around 5 p.m. the same night.  They may stop off at the store, then cook and serve dinner, and then discard the leftovers. Why do leftovers have such a bad name?  The reason is because we are afraid if we don’t serve the exact same thing within a day or two, it will go bad.  Well, this just isn’t true.  Food doesn’t go bad that quickly. 

Here’s advice from Tante Marie!  If it doesn’t smell bad, don’t throw it out!  Cooked chicken will keep for a week in the fridge.  Cooked seafood keeps for three days, cooked meat for five days.  Eggs keep for months in the fridge.  Dairy will keep for weeks after the sell-by date.  Butter keeps six to nine months in the freezer before it starts to lose flavor.  In fact, all foods keep for at least a year in the freezer.  Although it is recommended to recycle canned goods after they have been in your cupboard for a year, they will keep much longer.  The same is true of bottled spices; however, but they do lose color and taste after a year.  Whole grains and legumes keep a very long time in the cupboard.  So, does dried pasta.  

We live in a world where we read more and more about people sickened by contaminated foods.  It’s just the media being alarmist.  Of course, people can get very sick from things like poorly processed chicken and mass produced ground beef that is mixed and shipped all over the world.  And, the worst is when a cook in a restaurant does not keep his or her hands clean.   However, a person who wants to provide good healthy meals for their friends and family should buy responsibly—hopefully from the person who grows the food—cook it well—and plan to make more meals with the excess.
Remember, you don't have to throw food out.  Why not make a big pot of soup with the aging vegetables in your fridge and add a can of beans, a can of tomatoes and maybe some leftover dried pasta from the cupboard.  See my Turkey Chile Video and leave out the turkey. Its pretty easy to make a big pot of soup with what you have on hand and take it to your neighborhood shelter shown on the the map at That way you are helping the planet and people in need. 

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Press Release - Food Runners App

New Food Runners app now available on the Apple App Store and the Android Market

SAN FRANCISCO – April 20, 2015 – A new app lets San Francisco food businesses notify Food Runners about excess edible food, and helps volunteers keep up with the latest food runs in their area to deliver to agencies feeding the needy.  

"People use mobile phones to request transportation, order meals and book lodging,” says Food Runners founder Mary Risley. “We are always seeking new ways to let our community know it’s easy to donate excess food and relay meals to the hungry. These generous contributions help our network deliver 5,000 meals a day to neighborhood food programs.”

The San Francisco nonprofit organization delivers more than 17 tons a week of perishable and prepared food that would otherwise be thrown away. Recipients range from senior centers and homeless shelters to halfway houses and others in need. 

Food Runners regularly picks up excess inventory at businesses including restaurants, caterers, bakeries, hospitals and hotels. Some examples are Whole Foods, cafeteria leftovers at Twitter headquarters, and food overages at private and public events.
Volunteers generally give one hour a week to pick up and deliver food in their own vehicle. 

To schedule a pick-up of excess food or volunteer using the Food Runners app:

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Corporate Good

They're smart and they know how to hustle.  They cook for hundreds of food savvy, picky eaters on a daily basis.  Just like Food Runners, they love food and they hate waste. Their kitchens are huge, loud and hot. Welcome to the world of being a head chef at a San Francicso tech company corporate kitchen.

Typical Cisco/Meraki donation
You think your job requires organization.... For corporate kitchen chefs, organization takes center stage right next to culinary skill.  The spreadsheets for one week's menus could fill a twelve inch tall, three ring binder. Dishes for a multitude of international palates and diets must be available at all times. Vegan, vegetarian, carbs, no carbs, organic, low-fat, locally grown...the list goes on.   And how many to cook for?  How many employees will dine on campus on any given day?  How many will go out?  How many will work from home?  'Tis a puzzlement not even the most brilliant chef can accurately predict.

Picking up at Twitter.
That's where Food Runners comes in. Conscientious chefs at large companies like Twitter, Zynga, Cisco/Meraki, Linkedin and Google, just to name a few, have taken the minimal amount time and energy it takes to incorporate Food Runners into their kitchens' regular routine.  At these kitchens, the amount of labor required to empty leftovers into the trash gets applied to emptying the leftovers into trays to be picked up by Food Runners volunteers instead.

Food Runners volunteers love picking up at the tech company corporate cafeterias.  The food is glorious and copious. "Ten trays is typical," reports volunteer Thelma G. of her recent Friday afternoon run from Google to Community Focus.  "My car smells so good that I get hungry whenever I do my run," laughs volunteer Nancy C. of her Thursday afternoon run from Cisco/Meraki to Mother Brown's in Bayview. "The food always looks so healthy. I feel extra good about delivering it," enthuses volunteer Caitlin S. of her Monday afternoon adventures from Twitter to Dore Clinic. 

"The food donations have been really great," states Community Focus Director Yasi S. "The biggest problem for us food wise is always protein: having enough.  But Food Runners has saved our Saturday Program lunches.  The deliveries almost always  have protein.  And they're always delicious!"

Unloading Zynga donation at Potrero Hill Neighborhood House
Delicious and generous. Without Food Runners, corporate kitchens like Twittter, Zynga and the rest, hundreds of pounds of fantastic edible food would end up in the compost.  Instead, the food winds up in the mouths of San Franciscans in need.  Everyone wins.

Nutritious food is still being thrown away every day in San Francisco.  Did you know that approximately 170,000 San Franciscans don't have enough to eat on a daily basis?  Tell your friends and local businesses with food about Food Runners. Donating good food to those in need is just an app tap or  phone call away at 415-929-1866.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

A Special Place

Cars whiz by along the wide boulevard at the confluence of SOMA and The Mission District.  The number "225" is prominently displayed on the maroon door in the unassuming brick building, mid-block on the east side of Potrero Avenue.  To the right of the door,  a ten foot tall fence of rustic planks rises from the sidewalk. Several folks in various states of scruff linger near the gate marked simply, "Martin's."  They are waiting for the gate to open.  They are hungry. They are waiting to eat.

"A free restaurant." A sanctuary for folks in need.
Martin de Porres* House of Hospitality, or Martin's, as those who know it well affectionately refer to it, is no ordinary soup kitchen.  At Martin's, it's all about dignity. Martin's purports that, "eating is a right, not a privilege, and that feeding the hungry is a matter of justice, not of charity." Every person who walks through the doors at Martin's is treated like a guest, no matter what their circumstances or state of being. The guests at Martin's can enjoy a free hot meal followed by moments of tranquility in the sunlit garden courtyard adjacent to the dining room. At Martin's the guests get called by their names. They can even sign up for a shower.  

Since its founding in 1971, Martins' has been dishing up breakfast and lunch during the week and brunch on Sundays in the spirit of compassion,love and understanding that is its mission. Martin's serves 100-200 folks in need on a daily basis. That's a lot of food. Food Runners is on hand to help. 
The garden at Martin's
Every weekday, somewhere around 9AM, the Food Runners truck pulls up to Martin's.   Charlie, Martin's director in chief or Chris, the head chef step outside to meet Jose, Food Runners' truck driver. "What do you have today," Charlie/Chris will inquire as the back door of the truck clatters up to reveal a variety of grocery items from Whole Foods.  "Grapes and strawberries," they'll exclaim of the day's selection of fruit in pristine condition.  Whole Foods standards relegate product with even  the tiniest of freckles to the donations bin. "It's our lucky day," Charlie/Chris continue. "Eggs too and milk? Thank goodness.  We're running low. We'll pass on the sweets," Charlie Chris always say. "We try to avoid the sugary stuff except at Sunday brunch." Food Runners helps with that too.  On Saturday mornings, volunteer Heather S. hopscotches down Valencia Street picking up baked goods donations offered by Arizmendi Bakery, Craftsman and Wolves and Anthony's Cookies. "I love my run," Heather states. "Martin's is such a special place.  I feel so good exhilerated delivering there." 

The pies de resistance occurs on Saturday afternoons when volunteers Keith and Seth stop by Martin's in the Food Runners truck bearing gorgeous fresh produce from the Ferry Building Farmers Market.  Lots of it.  "We try hard to provide some real nutrition for our guests," Charlie informs. "So, the the farm fresh fare really makes a difference.  It's nice for our volunteers who do all the cooking too.  Cooking with good ingredients is always more inspiring and more fun. Martin's loves Food Runners," Charlie beams. "We wouldn't be the same without you."

Volunteer Keith on delivery to Martin's
The  Food Runners word is out.  More and more businesses are donating. 58 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 an app tap or  phone call away at 415-929-1866.

*St. Martin de Porres, (1579-1639) of Lima, Peru: patron saint of social justice, the sick, the poor, and all the animals.   A gentle spirit who fed anyone or anything, in need.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Child's Play

Time, time, time.  There never seems to be enough of it.  Especially quality time with one's children. Food Runners has the perfect solution.  Doing food runs with your kids.  Here's what it's like.  The good, the fun and the benefits...

Ella and Julien
A mop of chestnut curls bobs about Ella's face.  A sprinkle of freckles dances across her nose.  Her eyes sparkle. Her gap tooth smile captivates.  Ella is eight years old.  Ella is a Food Runner. Two mornings a week, alongside her father Julien, Ella collects donated baked goods from La Boulange on 9th Avenue for delivery to the Haight Ashbury Food Program and Walden House.

"I am doing Food Runners because it feels very good that I am helping people and your heart grows a little bit bigger when you help people," states Ella with magnificent earnestness. "It is really exciting to do it and it is fun because you get to go to different stores and have different opinions about each store. Chef Al [La Boulange] is really sweet. I like him a lot. The people at La Boulange are really nice. It is really awesome."

"Doing our two runs a week has allowed Ella and I to truly build an incredible relationship," intones Julien. "Both of us are committed to our friends from La Boulange, Haight Ashbury Food Program and Walden House. Our relationship is no longer just Father/Daughter but peers who enjoy having responsibilities. Looking at Ella, building her own relationship with people such as Chef Al is truly special. Ella is growing fast and her core values based on happiness, empathy and true joy of sharing are making her extremely personable. I can't be thankful enough to Food Runners for the true purpose they have created for Ella and I."

Collecting donations at La Boulange
Danielle and Suzie
"Living in Marin county can set up some unrealistic expectations about life and social status," states Danielle.  "Joining Food Runners and doing a regular run with Suzie when she was a young teenager helped her see the wider community within the Bay Area. It showed her that you feel good when you help others and that what you do makes a difference. She even brought her boyfriend once so he could see what she was doing on Saturday mornings.  I know she was proud of our efforts although I never heard those exact words.  It was evident nonetheless. What I like best - sharing time with her, doing something I believe in so she can form her own values around giving and being part of a community."

Tom and Jeannie
"It's great that we get the time together each week to enjoy each other's company while we team up  to do something we both think is so worthwhile," says Tom of the Saturday morning run he does with his high school age daughter Jeannie.  "I think she would say it feels great to help others and that it has made her much more aware of how many needy people there are out there."

Jerry and Oliver
"I’ve done almost all my runs with my then 7 (now 8) year old son, Oliver," recounts volunteer Jerry. "From his perspective, getting to go behind the scenes at Whole Foods or a big hotel kitchen is fabulous.  And he thinks it’s great how the food we deliver makes people happy, even if his perception is it’s not always a lot.  He loves helping to bring in the food, especially to the enthusiastic crew at SF Quaker Meeting.  From a parent perspective, I’ve enjoyed the bonding time, and exposing him to situations he might not otherwise encounter."

Oliver getting the job done at Whole Foods
Scott and Jason
"My son Jason has been coming on runs with me for three years. He is now  seven and he is able to help me load and unload deliveries. Thank you for what you do and for letting us be a part of it."

Sarah and Her Kids
"I love doing food runs with my kids," states long time volunteer Sarah. "I always take them along.  It gets them off their screens and out of the house doing something worthwhile. The price is right too. When we finish a run, my little one always asks, "did I earn my angel wings, Mommy?" Thank you,  Food Runners, for providing such a wonderful opportunity for my kids to learn about giving back. A weekend without Food Runners is like a weekend  without fun."

Earning wings
Are you looking for quality ways to spend time with your kids but aren't sure what to do? Take them on a food run.  Then tell all you friends about Food Runners and how they can get invovled. There are three ways to help.  Donate time.  Donate food.  Donate money. Any way you slice it, donating to Food Runners is fast, it's easy and it's fun.  And most importantly,  it makes a difference.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Miracle on Turk Street

It's a nasty block. One of the worst in the city.  It pulsates with the sights and sounds of life on the edge. The extreme edge. People in varying degrees of disarray mill about aimlessly, some quietly going about their business, others shouting at invisible companions or shouting at their neighbors over perceived slights. It's not pretty. Amidst this chaos, in the middle of the block, behind the windows obscured by lace curtains, you will find the hardworking Sisters of Fraternite Notre Dame. Sister Marie Benedict is the tall one; Sister Mary of the Angels, the tiny one. They are tireless.  They are devoted. They speak in melodious, French accented English. They wear long, flowing habits, the kind rarely seen anymore except in movies or medieval paintings. Together, from their soup kitchen at 54 Turk Street, they feed 300 people at a clip in a space no larger than your living room.

Lunch line forming at 54 Turk Street
The Sisters serve lunch at the soup kitchen on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays.  The line begins forming well before the doors open at 11:30.  Everyone behaves. Everyone is grateful for the Sisters.   Some of the more intrepid locals even volunteer to help cook, serve and wash dishes. "I need about 4-5 volunteers everyday to make the kitchen run properly," reports Sister Marie Benedict. "Some ask if they can 'elp. Some I choose from the line if they seem ready." On Tuesday evenings,  the Sisters haul a couple of folding tables, a canopy and food for an army to UN Plaza where they serve a hot meal to an average of 500 people.  On Wednesdays, the Sisters head to Bayview where they seek out those living in makeshift encampments under freeway bridges and other hidden places in the area.  The Sisters make sure everyone they find gets a hot meal.   On Thursdays,  Saturdays and Sundays, Sister Mary of the Angels sets up a booth and sells baked goods at various Farmers Markets in order to help with expenses. On Thursdays, she can be found at the Daly City Farmers Market; on Saturdays at Diablo Valley Farmers Market in Walnut Creek; on Sundays at the Moraga Farmers Market.

Food Runners has been helping the Sisters fulfill their mission to “provide help to the least ones and the poor" ever since discovering Fraternite Notre Dame back in September of 2009.  Food Runners delivers over 1 ton of food per week to the Sisters.  Everything from baked goods to groceries; whatever they need, Food Runners is there.  "Delivering to the nuns felt like an epiphany!" raved volunteer Thelma G upon occasion of her first drop-off. "When Sister Marie Benedict thanked me and looked at me with those blue, blue eyes, I felt that much closer to Heaven. And, coincidentally, I am learning French, so I got to practice. I can't wait to go back.  What they are doing is amazing and Food Runners is such a great way to be a part of that."

Sister Marie Benedict with individual meals donation delivered by Food Runners
Food Runners partners with the Sisters in other ways beyond delivering food. For example: upon purchasing a new truck last July, Food Runners proudly donated the old truck to the Sisters who'd been praying for a truck for years.  On Thursdays, Food Runners transports Sister Mary of the Angels and her wares from the Daly City Farmers Market back to her home base on Turk Street in order that Sister Marie Benedict attend to other necessary business. Three years ago, Food Runners connected Fraternite Notre Dame with Chef Tim Schaeffer of McCall's when Tim was looking for a volunteer opportunity to cook for those in need on Thanksgiving.  Tim has been cooking Fraternite's Thanksgiving meal every year since! This past December, Food Runners volunteers provided transportation for the Sisters and their gear to and from UN Plaza for their Tuesday evening meal service.  "The traffic was a complete nightmare," sighed volunteer Julia S of her December 16th contribution. "But meeting Sister Mary of the Angels was worth every bumper to number moment."

FR Director Mary Risley donating the old FR truck to Fraternite Notre Dame
Food Runners couldn't be prouder or more eager to support the Sisters of Fraternite of Notre Dame in their extraordinary work feeding the hungry of our community.  Good is as good does and working with the Sisters is all good.

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 an app post (yes! Food Runners has an app. SO easy!) or  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!