Food Runners

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Celebrating Food Runners, Then and Now

by Barbara Deutsch
Member of the Board of Directors of Food Runners

In April of 1987, I responded to a two-line blurb in the SF CHRONICLE food section. It asked readers to come a meeting about providing more food to San Franciscans in need. I’d been wanting to do something to help the growing numbers of people I was seeing in our streets and doorways. But what could I do? What I attended turned out to be the first meeting of Food Runners, where I met someone who had the answer to my question – Mary Risley. Mary’s idea was to pick up good wholesome food that was going to waste and share it with people feeding those in need. Zero cost - just the time and travel of willing Volunteers - very simple and very smart.

Thirty years later, three of the women who met that evening– Mary, Elizabeth Boileau and I – are still thrilled to be Food Runners. As committed Donors and Volunteers yourselves, you know why we’ve stayed with it all these years. The experience of doing something so basic, useful and connected to the community is always new and satisfying. Seeing the pleasure in the eyes of donors and recipients makes us all feel like a million bucks!

The happy look of a food run.
Our beautiful 30th Anniversary Celebration at the Ritz-Carlton last month captured what Food Runners is all about: screams and hugs as past and present Volunteers reconnected - cheers and ovations for everyone who lends a hand. Amazing food-themed hats and caps created by our own costume designer, Nancy Hahn.

Mary Risley                                             Nancy Hahn
At the dinner, In the front of the room were the supporters of Food Runners, particularly those who had given $1000 or more.  Also present were Volunteers, who were asked to stand, then sit, reflecting their years of service; and Donors of food, Zynga Twitter and Salesforce. 

After dinner, Mary and Nancy were honored for their total of forty-five years of incredible service. We are so lucky to have these two forces of nature: Mary as our guiding light, Nancy as our on the ground coordinator. Their hard work, enthusiasm, encouragement, persistence and daily cajoling have made Food Runners what it is today!

Mary addressing the crowd at the 30th Anniversary Celebration
America has finally begun to catch on to the Food Runners concept, and more and more organizations across the country are delivering good food that would otherwise go to waste. So many thanks to all of you for starting an important national trend, and for helping to change the world one bagful, one boxful and one trayful at a time.