Food Runners

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Food Runners Goes to Church

by Peter Mandell, Volunteer
On-call Runner


Food Runners is such an amazing group, staffed by an incredible group of dedicated people and aided by a corps of countless Volunteers scurrying around the city on their missions of picking up and delivering food to those in need. I am always impressed by how helpful and welcoming the folks are where we make pickups, and then overwhelmed by the welcome and abounding sense of appreciation from those we deliver the food to. Be it excess candy from a local school program after Halloween to baked goods from Arizmendi (yum) to salads and wraps from Haight St. Market, the faces of those we serve is enough to brighten anyone’s day.

Among the 200+ shelter and feeding programs Food Runners delivers to, there are a number operated by various churches around the city that care for those in need. They include: 

Food Runners Truck on deliver at St. Gregory's of Nyssa
The Food Pantry at St Gregory of Nyssa Episcopal Church in Potrero Hill
Food Runners delivers on Fridays. “Every Friday, right around the same altar where St. Gregory’s offers communion, we give away free groceries to 400 hungry families,” states food pantry founder Sara Miles. “There’s nothing better for our team than hearing the shout, “Food Runners is here!” and going out to greet the driver and see what’s on the truck this time. Each week one dedicated Food Runners volunteer drops off bags full of delicious bakery bread…and then a little later the truck arrives with surprises like fresh fruit, eggs, even organic juices and milk. We’re so grateful to be able to share this abundance with our families…and grateful for the generosity, good humor and kindness of all the Food Runner volunteers and staff.”

Neighborhood Brunch Program at All Saint's Episcopal Church in the Haight
Food Runners delivers every Saturday morning to this program serving a hot meal for over 200 people who struggle with food insecurity. Food Runners has been delivering to this program for almost 20 years. “From fresh fruits and vegetables to canned foods to bread and rice, each client receives much needed, nutritious foods that they otherwise cannot afford. All Saints’ makes a special effort to provide foods that can be used by those without permanent homes or cooking facilities, since they are part of the clientele we serve.” Lisa Sappington, Saturday Meal Coordinator.

Volunteer Lisa M with donations for St. Francis Lutheran Church
Food Runners has been delivering to this program every Saturday for close to 20 years also. Volunteer Lisa M has been on the job for the last 8 of those 20!  “On Saturdays we receive bags and bags of food and flowers from a volunteer of Food Runners [Lisa]," says the St. Francis Hospitality Program coordinator.  "The Food Runners volunteer has been to one of the grocery stores that morning picking up food that is near it’s expiration, such as bread, meat, cheese, milk, vegetables and fruit.  The food is unloaded at the church entrance where our volunteers then carry it into our Parish Hall where they sort and unpack the delivery. This food has been a major asset our Sunday morning Hospitality Hour.”

Julian Pantry at St. John the Evangelist Church in the Mission
Food Runners delivers an adundance of food leftover form tech company lunches on Friday afternoons. The food is refrigerated overnight and served the following morning to the 250-300 people who come to shop at the pantry for free groceries. After filling their grocery bags, the clients can enjoy the benefit of a hot meal comprised of the food delivered by Food Runners. “We would not be able to serve a meal without Food Runners,” comments Jean Baker the pantry organizer. “For some of these people, ours will be the only hot meal they get all week. Thank you Food Runners.  Especially for the meat. Everyone loves the meat."

The Lima Center at St. Dominic's Church in the Fillmore
When the Lima Center’s long time volunteer cook retired recently, Food Runners was able to step in and provide prepared food for the Lima Center’s homeless ministry lunches served on Thursdays. “It has been so delightful to receive the donations from Food Runners,” says Sister Colleen who heads up the program.
“It is very nice to have the substantial bacon, eggs, french toast, oatmeal and fruit each week, but it has been even more fun to have the "surprise salads" which change each week.  One week we had a lovely green salad with Octopus tentacles in it!  The guests dared one another to try it and some found a new nutritious food to appreciate. We are all - guests, staff and volunteers - grateful to the Food Runners, not just for the food, but also and especially for the kindness and commitment to serve this community and those who would go hungry with out their generosity.”

SF Quaker Food Pantry donations and staff.  All food delivered by Food Runners
On Saturday mornings, multiple Food Runners Volunteers deliver large donations from several well known grocery stores. “The Quaker Food Pantry was started eight years ago in the community room of the Quaker Meeting House in order to serve neighbors in the mid-Market and Civic Center, recounts pantry organizer Paula Stinson. Within a few months cheery people with cars from a group called Food Runners started stopping by with large loads of grocery items from several known grocery stores. Today we serve 60-80 clients a week solely from Food Runner deliveries. Our clients continue come on Saturdays because we offer meat and/or eggs as well as other really good food, and we allow them to shop for themselves rather than handing our pre-packaged bags. We literally could not do this work without Food Runners and the amazing, reliable generosity of the donating stores. Without Food Runners as our delivery partner we would have closed. There is an abundance of food out there but it takes an abundant talent to organize all the pieces. Thank you Food Runners and Food Donors.”

Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral
Food Runners delivers on the third Tuesday of every month. “Our Community Kitchen relies on the wonderful Food Runners program to provide a warm meal for up to 70 (and sometimes more!) of our most in-need neighbors, who come in from the Mission district and throughout San Francisco, on the third Tuesday of every month,” states program coordinator and parishioner Christina Armatas. “Before we started using Food Runners, we struggled to provide enough quality food for the number of guest we received. Now that we have Food Runners, the variety and quality of the meal we provide is unparalleled, and we have more time to focus on welcoming our guests. It is so rewarding that with Food Runners' support, we have been able to create an environment that is more than a good meal but, a safe haven and fellowship community for those who need it most. We count our blessings with every delivery from Food Runners and look forward to our continued partnership for years to come!

A city well served, and think of the numbers of hungry fed by Food Runners efforts. Times have been hard on many, and there is nothing more appalling than to think of the richest nation in the world being home to so many who go to bed hungry and without sustenance for the next day. Food Runners efforts to deliver much need meals and groceries of all types from fresh produce to delicious baked goods to these churches to distribute to their various populations has made an enormous difference. We may not be able to change the world, but working with Food Runners we have truly changed our little piece of it, and all for the better. Matthew 25:35 “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink”