Food Runners

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Homelessness and Food Runners

by Dede Tisone, Volunteer
Saturdays: Whole Foods, Potrero Store + 
Kara's Cupcakes, Main Bakery

Homelessness in San Francisco breaks my heart. Honestly, Food Runners is the only thing between me and complete despair about the homeless. I think that, with all the brains and money in this city, we should be able to provide safe shelter and food for the homeless.  Mary Risley’s Food Runners is part of the solution.  For the last 30 years it has made a significant contribution to providing food for those without.   

I have been a Food Runner for six of those 30 years.  Every Saturday at 9am, I meet Dawn and Lisa at Whole Foods in the Potrero.  First we sign in and head for the back of the produce section to pack boxes with strawberries, bananas, apples, cantaloupe, and grapes –containers of prepared cut vegetables and fruit – even salsa and guacamole.  Then we load all of this bounty into our cars. But we are not done.  We head for the deli to pick up prepared and frozen food.  Still not finished.  We head for dairy, where the guys in the back of the store have a trolley ready for us with boxes of milk, eggs, butter and yogurt.  Finally, we practice our packing skills as we load it into our cars  

But we are still not done.  This is not one stop shopping.  We also go to Kara’s cupcakes on Third Street.  You can smell the chocolate before you get to the door.  We pick up eight to ten big white pastry boxes of cupcakes there.  Lisa goes to St Francis Lutheran Church where volunteers help unload.  Dawn and I go to City Team at Sixth and Howard.  

At City Team, Dawn and I are met with a squadron of men who help unload the car.   Recently I took a grandson along to help.  There was a fellow standing by the trash can who greeted us with “I live here 24/7.”  I asked if he lived in one of the neighboring shelters and he replied.” No, the sidewalk is it for me – 24/7…24/7 every day.”  As we were leaving, my grandson rolled down the window and said “have a good day.”  The man surprisingly said “Son, every day is a good day for me.” When we drop off food, we always get many “thank you’s.”  But these people are doing the hard work.  We are just spending a gratifying hour once a week delivering food. 

We know that it is easy to feel angry about those who sleep on the streets.  But it is better to offer a smile or a cup of coffee or volunteer or donate to Food Runners. 

In addition to my day job and Food Runners, I am an artist and have been drawing the streets and people of San Francisco for some time.  Lately, because of Food Runners, I have been focusing on the homeless.  A few of my drawings are now part of a show called “TINY” at the Studio Gallery SF on Pacific between Van Ness and Polk. All proceeds of the sale of my drawings in this TINY show go to Food Runners.  The show is currently open and runs through December 23rd. To see more, go to