Food Runners

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.