Food Runners

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!