Food Runners

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

The Human Touch

By Andrew S. Ross, Volunteer

From my experience of being an on-call Food Runners Volunteer for the last couple of years, I realize that there are so  many service organizations in San Francisco that are feeding those in need. There are hundreds of volunteers who sort the food, prep it, cook it, serve it, or package and hand out as takeaway. Volunteers comprise the human touch, and for them, it’s labor of both love and understanding, sometimes based on direct experience. 

Volunteers set up and ready to go at Haight Ashbury Food Program
“Most of our Volunteers were clients at one time,” said Robert Miles who runs the Haight Ashbury Food Program, a Farmers Market-style pantry of fresh food, groceries and canned goods, which serves approximately 150 people every Saturday. That includes Robert, a former client, who lived in Golden Gate Park for six months. “When you know where they’re coming from, you know what it’s like. You fit in. You want to help them.”

Left: The gate at Martin DePorres
Right: Volunteer stirring the soup at Martin DePorres
In addition to the Haight Ashbury Food Program, Food Runners delivers to a range of providers like:  North Beach Citizens, where Volunteers help sort and distribute food on weekdays to area homeless; All Saints Episcopal Church in Haight-Ashbury where Volunteers cook and serve hot lunches every Saturday; Annunciation Cathedral in the Mission, where Volunteers prep, cook, serve (and clean up after) dinners for the homeless on the third Tuesday of every month; City Team, South of Market, where volunteers sort food donations and serve dinners five evenings a week; St. Francis Lutheran Church in the Castro, where "Sunday Morning Hospitality" Volunteers sort food donations and prepare bag lunches and a hot meal for their neighbors in need;  and Martin de Porres, in Potrero Hill, staffed completely by Volunteers serving up to 200 people from a soup kitchen with breakfast and lunch five days a week and brunch on Sunday.

St. Francis Lutheran Church volunteers prepping for Sunday Morning Hospitality.
Photo credit: San Francisco Cares.
From his experience as a volunteer in the soup kitchen at Martin de Porres since 2004, “‘I came to love the community and by that I mean both the volunteers and the guests,” said Peter Rothblatt, a dance instructor and massage therapist. “Everyone is treated with dignity and respect. And I’ve been able to see and confront my prejudices. I feel I have more compassion as a result.”