Food Runners

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.