Food Runners

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Ground Zero

By Stephanie Galinson, Volunteer
Kara's Cupcakes Main Bakery on Wednesdays

Many consider the Bay Area Ground-Zero for the U.S. food movement. The combination of diversity in its population, agricultural and culinary offerings as well as innovation, and progressive culture, offer the ideal climate for a robust food system.  Yet, for all its promise, San Francisco’s food system doesn’t work for all: one in four San Franciscans are food insecure, with twenty-three percent living at just twice the national poverty level
The San Francisco Sheriff's Department Survivor Restoration Program (SRP) is a powerful example of Food Runners' impact. The SRP helps women survivors of domestic violence to “restore emotional, physical, mental stability to create healthy environment for themselves and their families to heal from the violence of their past.” SRP’s Survivor Empowerment Program (SEP), conducts a weekly group meeting with its clients, many who are coming from work tired and hungry. According to Case Manager Claudia Larios, the SEP program “not only gives the women and their children a safe place, but they are now welcomed with a nutritious meal [delivered by Food Runners]. Having food donated to us not only feeds our clients and their children, it allows our clients to have dinner together with their children, as some don’t have time to go home and cook, and others don’t have enough money to make a meal.”  Larios adds that the weekly food donations also offer new food experiences, encouraging clients to try different foods like Mediterranean, tofu and quinoa. “We appreciate Food Runners and their volunteers for dropping off food to our program and helping our clients,” states Larios, “as it takes a community to help us support our clients through their healing process.”

The Survivor Empowerment program is one a myriad of organizations benefiting from donated surplus prepared foods each week. On Mondays, for the past several years, food from long-time donor Zynga, goes to Derek Silva Community, a residential HIV/AID program. Kevin Feauteaux, Silva’s Support Services Director shared the importance of Food Runners to Silva’s mission. “We’ve seen an actual measurable difference in the health of our clients due to a dramatic increase in their nutritional intake.”
My own regular runs, one to tech firm Mode Analytics and one to Bon Appetit Management Company’s commissary kitchen, where meals for several tech firms are prepared and distributed, have been memorable.  I like to corral one of my kids to go along with me, as food runs offer a host of valuable life lessons - learning to navigate the city, understanding who is providing (and donating food), and most importantly, understanding who needs it, and the impact of the donations.  During the school year, we regularly brought food to the Jamestown Community Center after-school program in the Mission. Jamestown works to develop the potential of underserved youth.  As a mother, I know how hungry kids are after school.  I was happy to have my kids in tow, to engage with their peers, for whom dinner might just be the Food Runners donation.

By Friday, as the work week winds down, Food Runners Volunteers are still busy taking prepared food donations food to Recipients like Casa Quezada, a program serving formerly homeless individuals with special needs. While donations are sometimes unpredictable in volume, they are always important supplements to the social service network in San Francisco.

Food Runners continues to remind both its Volunteers and the larger San Francisco communities they engage that, for all its riches, San Francisco is a city where hunger is a daily reality for many residents. Until hunger ends, there is a role for Food Runners and its partners in San Francisco.