Food Runners

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Keith & Co.

by Jacqueline Kelley, Volunteer  
On-call Runner
Food Runners truck ready for the Ferry Building Farmers Market
Once, the Hog Island Oyster Bar at the Ferry Building had huge sacks of leftover oysters to donate to Food Runners. Knowing that he couldn’t deliver loads of raw oysters to shelters, Food Runners Volunteer Keith Goldstein automatically thought to distribute the oysters out to the farmers who had donated food to thank them for their generosity, and everyone enjoyed fresh oysters as a payment for their kindness.

Keith receiving donations from Far West Fungi
This is one example of what has made Food Runners volunteers Keith and his partners Seth Archaya and Frank Ryan so famous at the Ferry Building Farmers’ Market. I once covered for Keith and Seth on their usual Saturday afternoon Ferry Building Farmers Market jaunt. I knew I was substituting for a really special group when I saw the look of dismay on some of the farmer's faces when I told them the usual guys were off for the day. As they put it: “where’s the guy who yells ‘bring out your food’?”

Click HERE to see Keith & Seth in action
After moving from England, Keith got started in the US as a house painter, and ultimately built up his own construction company, Everest Waterproofing and Restoration Inc., which repairs historic buildings in the city and around the Bay Area. Keith and Seth met when Keith traveled to the Himalayas and hired Seth as a mountain guide. Years later, Seth got his green card, moved to the US and started working for Keith. Seth’s wife, who is from Kathmandu, joined him in the US five years ago, and they now live next to Keith in Potrero Hill with their two kids.

Team Keith (from left): Keith, Frank, Seth
Keith, Seth and Frank have been a Food Runners volunteer team for over 20 years, taking the big Food Runners truck to the Ferry Building Farmers Market every Saturday. Before Keith was known for his signature  “bring out your food” call, he went to a Taste of the Nation event and signed up to be a volunteer for Food Runners founder Mary Risley. A few weeks later Mary called him and said, “we got enough people to sit in committees, are you any good at picking up food?” He started running food by himself with one of his pickup trucks shortly after.

One Saturday this month, I met with the guys and followed them as they circled the Farmers Market and picked up leftover food. What struck me was how happy the farmers were to see them — many of the farmers described them to me as family. After we picked up a good load of food, we drove it to the Hamilton Families Shelter Program in the Tenderloin, where the chef chose what he wanted to cook for the families staying at the program.

Keith collecting donations at Neighbor Bakehouse
From there, we traveled to Neighbor Bakehouse in Dogpatch, which was honestly one of the best bakeries I have ever been to (the owner gave me four different pastries to try, and each of them were incredible). The wonderful thing about riding with Seth and Keith was talking to them not only about Food Runners, but also about San Francisco and how it has changed, how to improve the city, our travels, and our families. That community feeling is what makes Food Runners the organization it is.