Food Runners

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Food Runners, Ina and Me

Louise Swig, Volunteer

I became a Food Runners volunteer because the garage door got stuck.  In November 2011, I received a phone call from Paul O’Malley, a resident in a building that I manage. His garage door wouldn’t open. While waiting patiently for the repair service to arrive, Paul stated that the one urgent matter he had to take care of that day was to pick up and deliver some food for charity.

The conversation stuck in my mind and a couple of days later I called Paul to learn more.  He told me about Food Runners. When I told Paul I might be interested in helping, he gave me the contact information for Food Runners and, within a few days, I was doing my first food run. 

At first, I chose random runs that fit easily into my schedule. I soon noticed that the Sunday Divisadero Farmers Market  run that I had tried several times seemed to be in need of a  weekly runner. I volunteered to be the "regular." I also noticed a run on Wednesdays that involved picking up from a mini famers market at Martin Luther Tower, a seniors housing complex. I volunteered to be the “regular” on that one too since I'd really been enjoying doing food runs.

Louise's trunk full of Divisadero Farmers Market donations
The vendors at the farmers markets do not often supply boxes for their donations. Every week before my runs, I would scrounge for boxes wherever I could. One day, Mary Ann, the coordinator of the Martin Luther Tower mini market, became aware of my plight and told me she had many empty boxes in storage on an ongoing basis and had been wondering what to do with them. She kindly offered them to me. What serendipity! The boxes make transporting the donations so much easier. I simply stack the loaded up boxes on my luggage cart and wheel them to my car. 

Efren of Garcia Farms offering Louise his donation
Another serendipity moment arose when my close friend Ina Dearman heard about my Food Runners escapades and said she wanted to help. Ina has multiple sclerosis and is unable to walk without assistance. Ferrying food to my car was not a viable option for Ina. How could Ina help I wondered? The light bulb went on. Parking at the Divisadero Farmers Market had always been challenging. I realized that Ina could be a valuable asset in this regard. With Ina staying behind in the car, I can park almost anywhere and, if somebody wants the car moved while I am picking up the donations, Ina is there to explain the mission. People are always very supportive and patient.

Parking space monitor Ina
There are multiple benefits to being a Food Runners volunteer.  Not only is it satisfying to know that left-over food is going to people who really need it but also, to witness the responses from both donors and recipients.  The donors are generous and seem genuinely pleased that their food is being used for a good cause.  The recipients are extremely happy and grateful to receive the food. The other great benefit? I get to spend time with my dear friend Ina doing something important and meaningful together. 
Ina and Louise: mission accomplished