Food Runners

Monday, November 5, 2018

Perfect Match

 by Nancy Hahn
Food Runners Dispatcher &
Volunteer Coordinator

Food Runners loading a large donation
 Food Runners receives food donations of all different quantities and many different types of food. As part of the mission to ensure that the donations go to where they are needed most and can best be used, Food Runners developed certain guidelines for directing the food:  

LARGE SOUP KITCHENS like Glide and St. Anthony’s:
  • Large Amounts of Food to be Cooked
SMALLER SOUP KITCHENS like the Fraternite Notre Dame. and Martin DePorres
  • Smaller Amounts of Food to be Cooked
  • Also Smaller Amounts of Food to be Cooked
  • Larger Numbers of Hotel Trays of Prepared Foods
GROUP HOMES like La Amistad and Fresh Start:
  • Smaller Numbers of Hotel Trays of Prepared Foods to be Reheated and served to residents
DROP IN CENTERS like North Beach Citizens and Telegraph Hill Neighborhood Ctr:
  • Individually-Wrapped Foods such as Sandwiches, Soups & Salads
COMMUNITY AND SENIOR APARTMENT BUILDINGS: Like Buchanan Park Apartments and Sala Burton Manor
  • Individual Packaged Meals
AFTER SCHOOL PROGRAMS  like Gilman Rec Connect and Booker T. Washington Community Center:
  • Ready-to-Eat Foods such as Cupcakes, Pizza, Apples. Oranges
Food Runners app ready for download as it appears at Google Play
As you can see, a tray of rice and five burritos is not a good fit for a large soup kitchen like Glide, just as 23 cases of broccoli would not be a good fit for A Woman's Place where there are only 30-40 clients and no cooking facilities. In addition to matching the donations and the recipient organizations by type of food and number of people served, Food Runners also takes into account the proximity the donor and the recipient, as well as the hours within which a recipient can receive donations.  With over 600 pick ups per week, the sheer logistics of it all get complicated. So...  how does Food Runners make sure the food gets to where it is needed most and can best be used?  By using the new Food Runners app.
Available runs as they appear to Volunteers using the app  
Example of run route as shown on the app to the Volunteer selecting the run
The new app uses algorithms to best match donors and recipients according to Food Runners guidelines. No more time spent scrolling through databases and lists to put it all together. The app figures out the best recipient for delivery within seconds of when a Donor enters their pick up request, and with greater accuracy too. In addition, the app provides speed and convenience for Food Runnners Volunteers. No more waiting  for relayed information  from the dispatcher. Volunteers desiring to do a food run at anytime need only open their Food Runners app and self select from the available runs displayed.  All the information needed to perform a run, including the best route, is provided. Overall, the app provides an avenue for Food Runners to get more food to more San Franciscans in need. Food Runners: mission accomplished.