Food Runners

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Running with Food

by Alexandra Vuksich, Volunteer
Regular Runs, Wednesdays & Fridays
Wed: White Swan/Marine's Memorial +Pandora/Eat Club
Fri: B. Patisserie

Many years ago, before I had gray hair, I met a woman while house/dog sitting who would walk her dog about the same time I walked and we would chat politely as people walking dogs often do.  Turned out this woman was Mary Risley and she had just started a clever volunteer pro-gram she called “Food Runners.”  Hmmm…  I tucked the name away in the back of my brain as something fun to do if and when I ever retired.  Fast forward to 2010 and shortly after retirement I looked Food Runners up online, filled out the form and before you could say “Where’s a park-ing spot?”, I was on my first run.  And, I’ve been running every since.

At Piperade: no car too small
At first, I played the field, picking runs from the dispatcher’s Friday email listing.  I loved the variety but wanted something more predictable for my untethered schedule.  So, I chose to commit to what I call “Mitzvah Wednesdays.”  I have two regular runs on Wednesdays.  One that starts at 10:00am and takes me to The Marines’ Memorial Club, White Swan Inn and Piperade; dropping off at North Beach Citizens. 

Carol at White Swan preparing the donations
Then I choose a spot to have lunch and take a nice walk followed by round 2:  Pandora and Eat Club provide donations which are then dropped to U.F.O. Then I choose a spot to have lunch and take a nice walk followed by round 2:  Pandora and Eat Club provide donations which are then dropped to U.F.O

Steve at Eat Club loading the heavy items. He insists.
I love Wednesdays! On Friday mornings I pick up from B. Patisserie and deliver to the JFK Towers, where the residents eagerly await my arrival.  The donors and recipients are all smiles when they see me, we talk about “stuff” and sometimes I just grab and go or stop and drop depending on how busy everyone is and, of course, whether or not I found a real parking spot.   There’s another subtle advantage to these regular runs — I go to neighborhoods that I would not necessarily visit on even a monthly basis. Now I have a better sense of changes around town and how life works (or doesn’t)  for San Franciscans East of Twin Peaks.  Oh, and I still make myself available for “on call” days as well as the occasional night owl run.  Driving around town late at night is just the best, especially when you’re delivering amazing fare to those who are in need of a real meal.  Especially now, when the world often seems overwhelmingly chaotic, redirecting food to the needy gives me the sense that I’ve helped solve one problem on that day and in the old fashioned way — face to face.

Alexa picking up at on-call run to Whole Foods
Food Runners is the finest volunteer experience I’ve had during a lifetime of volunteering.   You can do as little or as much as you like with no pressure.  Plus it combines my love of driving, my native’s cunning at navigating SF (without GPS thank you very much) and my dislike of wasting food.  What’s not to like??  If you’re already a Food Runner, you know what I’m talking about. If you’re hovering, take the plunge; I think you’ll be glad you did!