Food Runners

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Seniors in San Francisco

by Nancy Hahn
Food Runners Dispatcher and
Volunteer Coordinator

Full meal donations from Kaiser. Perfect for delivery to apartment buildings for Seniors.
Some go to socialize. Some go for the food. You may find some kicking up their heels in dance class. Just imagine your grandma laughing and cha-cha-ing her way across the floor of the rec room at the local Y. Art instruction. Bread making, Ceramics and crafts. Bingo. Healthcare instruction. Gardening. Field trips. Music appreciation. Free meals and more. These are examples of the many services offered by Senior Programs around San Francisco.
“Our day begins with people setting up work spaces for their art, while others peruse the daily newspapers to discuss the latest events. As para-transit vans arrive, individuals using walkers and wheelchairs join the other neighborhood regulars enjoying a cup of tea or coffee,” states Richmond Senior Center.
Telegraph Hill Neighborhood Center wants all elders participating the their Senior Program “to feel healthy and vibrant, connected and mentally sharp.” Their Senior Program provides hot lunches, group exercise classes, intellectual stimulation, weekly line dancing, tai chi, special workshops, monthly blood pressure screenings, and a computer lab.
“Our dining room is more than just where meals are served, it’s where people gather to connect, share and learn,” states Curry Senior Center.

Senior exercise class at Castro Senior Center.  (photo courtesy of Golden Gate Senior Services)
 Older adults are the fastest growing age group in town. Nearly 30% of San Francisco’s seniors live alone. With San Francisco’s cost of living recognized as being  62% higher than the national average, surviving on a fixed income in San Francisco is more challenging than ever before. It is estimated that 50,000 seniors in San Francisco struggle with varying degrees of food insecurity, from occasional need for some to daily need for others.
Home bound seniors in need of food can look to Meals on Wheels for assistance. Meals on Wheels delivers nutritious meals directly to client’s homes.  Meals on Wheels is the only organization in San Francisco that delivers two meals a day, seven days a week that are nutritionally-tailored to meet the dietary needs of eligible seniors.
Volunteer Julie G. accepting donations at Real Foods on Polk Street.
 For seniors who are not home bound, food is available at Senior Programs throughout the city. Food Runners currently serves over 35 Senior Programs on a regular basis. The list includes senior centers such as Curry Senior Center, group homes such as Progress Foundation's Rypin’s House, subsidized housing apartment buildings like Dorothy Day Community Center and drop-in centers such as Pilipin Senior Resource Center. “When our clients have enough to eat,” states E of the Pilipin Center, “they can pay their rent and stay off the streets. The food from Food Runners helps so much.”
Taking nutritious food that would otherwise be discarded enables Food Runners to make an immediate and meaningful impact on the seniors being served. At Food Runners, growing old doesn’t have to mean going hungry. 

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Food Runners and Tech

by Nancy Hahn
Food Runners Dispatcher &
Volunteer Coordinator

Food Runners Bike Courier Josean on the job.
Long bus stops occupy both of the curbs that border the tall office building at 301 Howard. Thirty percent of the streets in SOMA and the Financial District change to “No Parking/Tow-Away” between 3-6PM or 4-7PM. And, the main arteries leading to the Bay Bridge, like 1st Street or Folsom near 2nd are absolute parking lots from two o’clock on. It’s impossible to even pull up to collect a quick curbside hand-off. So, how does Food Runners pick up from food donors in locations like these at rush hour? 

Food Runners bicycle couriers are on the job. They wear Food Runners use their own bikes. They pull big canvas trailers. They consult the Food Runners app in order to choose pick ups in their “territory.” There are two couriers Monday through Thursday and three on Fridays. Between them, they pick up and deliver approximately 2,000 pounds of food per week that would otherwise be thrown away.
Food Runners Couriers Josean (left) & Trevor (right) pedaling their routes.
So… where does all the food they pick up come from? The answer is: tech company in-house meals. All the tech companies provide in-house meals. And there are SO many tech companies in San Francisco, from well established giants like Twitter and Google who serve from expansive corporate cafeterias, to smaller firms like Canvas and Trust Token, who have catered food delivered on a daily basis.

Volunteer Terry H. loading donations at Juul.
 "We held a hack-a-thon yesterday and it was impossible to know how many people would show up," stated the event coordinator at a sleek SOMA start-up.  Result:75 individually wrapped sandwiches donated to Food Runners.

"We order catered lunch daily," explains the office manager from a start up in the Financial District.  "There are 47 people in the office and we order for all 47 everyday. But then people get called to away to meetings or are on a diet or just don't care for the in-house lunch selection of the day."  Result: 3-5 trays of meal o' day donated to Food Runners.

"I prepare lunch every day for a number equivalent to 90% of our total workforce," remarks the head chef at a corporate cafeteria of a large, well-known company.  "There is no way of knowing in advance how many employees will eat in-house on a given day and how many will go out. I can't be caught without, so there are always leftovers." Result: an average of 10-20 trays (equivalent to 50-100 meals) donated to Food Runners daily, M-F.

Volunteer Andrew R & Chef loading donations at Adobe.
 Starting at around 1:30 every weekday afternoon, the tech company on-demand pick up requests flood in fast and furious. These on-demand orders are in addition to the already standing pick up orders from companies like LinkedIn, Google, Twitter and more. The large donations are picked up at loading docks by Food Runners drivers using their own vehicles. All in all, Food Runners picks up and delivers an average of 2,000-2,500 meals coming from tech company donations on a daily basis. And the food is great! Extremely high quality and almost always made the same day. It means so much to Food Runners recipients like the Women’s Resource Center, who offers support services, education and shelter referrals to women and mothers transitioning out of incarceration, when Food Runners bicycle courier Trevor pulls up laden with tech company lunch leftovers, ready to heat and serve. Food Runners and San Francisco’s current technocracy together are doing a lot to help prevent waste and alleviate hunger in our fair city.  

Monday, February 4, 2019

Serving Our Community

By Kim Hirschfeld
On-Call Volunteer
Food Runners delivered bounty creates free groceries at  SF Quaker meeting Food Pantry
As San Francisco grows, so does the need.  With rents skyrocketing out of control, the face of hunger extends far beyond the homeless man on the corner of Jones and Eddy.  The landscape of food insecurity extends to all neighborhoods and much of the hunger is hidden.

It might be the child sitting next to yours at school. It might be the family living in the Richmond who earns too much to qualify for Cal Fresh, but not enough to pay the rent and still put food on the table. It might be the senior you saw practicing Tai Chi in Washington Square Park, who subsequently heads over to  Telegraph Hill Neighborhood Center for a hot meal and some much needed free groceries.

Food Runners exists to help our neighbors in need like those mentioned above by helping support the local agencies serving our at-risk communities. Here is what some of those agencies are saying about how Food Runners deliveries help.

Chef Danny (in white) unloading at HealthRIGHT 360 Walden House
 "As part of HealthRIGHT 360, we serve multiple sites encompassing over 1,000 people," states Danny Higginbotham, Executive Chef of Walden House Northern and Southern California Operations. "I estimate that the food delivered by Food Runners saves me $1,000,000 per year."
Student Thank You poster
 "A few years back, I won an award for my Study Cafe program," recounts former Gateway High School after school Program Director, Joanne Wells. Gateway's population includes a high percentage of students from low-income families. "I always say the award was due to the food. Once food was available, more students participated and they were able to focus better on their work because they weren't distracted by hunger." Joanne retired last June and is happy to know that Food Runners deliveries to Gateway continue.

"Our neighborhood meal program would shut down plain and simple if it weren't for Food Runners," says City Team program coordinator Christophe Nusbaumer. City Team provides a hot meal nightly, M-Th, to those in need in the 6th Street corridor area. City Team also serves an all-you-can-eat lunch on Saturdays.

Unloading donations for the evening's dinner at City Team
"This is Jerry," rumbled a voice over the Food Runners phone message line on January 15th. "I live in the Veterans housing in the Presidio. I just called to say thank you for all the food you bring to our building. Without Food Runners, many of us would not have enough to eat on a regular basis.  What you do makes such a difference. Thank you from the bottom of my heart and from all the guys too."

Food insecurity is part of the fabric of San Francisco every day. And everyday, Food Runners does what it can to ease the burden for as many at-risk communities as possible. The need never sleeps and neither does Food Runners.