Food Runners

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

16 Years

by Nancy Hahn
Food Runners Dispatcher &
Volunteer Coordinator
Retired, 8.31.2019
Nancy on last day. Pictured with with Food Runners Executive Director Linda Murley (l.) and Nancy's replacement,  new Dispatcher and Volunteer Coordinator, Eileen Wong (r.)
“Do you think Doug would be right for the job?” Mary asked her assistant Peggy.  Doug had been helping with the “party” classes at Mary’s Tante Marie's Cooking School for some months. “No,” Peggy replied. "I don’t think Doug is a good fit, but his wife Nancy is looking for a job ad I think she might be." And so it began. 
Nancy in the Food Runners office making the magic happen.
In April of 2003, my son Erik was five months old. Time to go back to work. I was weeks away from looking for a job when Mary called. After the shortest, most to-the-point job interview I’d ever had, I was hired to be the Volunteer Coordinator and Dispatcher for Food Runners. My first order of business was doing a food run to Real Foods on Polk Street with delivery to North Beach Citizens. I was hooked on the Food Runners mission immediately. The experience was gratifying and full of meaning. I knew then that asking Volunteers to do food runs was going to be a privilege and a pleasure.

Nancy at Food Runners 30th Anniversary Party, April 2017.
In the early years, my work included the challenge of  convincing businesses to donate their excess food. Gradually people came to know us, trust us, and understand the importance of our mission.  
-->Then tech came to town.  A lot of tech. Suddenly companies were feeding their employees in-house regularly.  There was an abundance of excess food.  Around the same time, the issue of food waste exploded in the media, increasing awareness nationwide.  Donations began pouring in. Food Runners went from picking up an average of 10 tons per week in 2003 to 16 tons per week by 2014. Today, Food Runners picks up approxiamtely 18 tons of food per week that might otherwise go to waste. That’s the equivalent of 24,000 meals per week. 
Nancy accepting $250 donation raised by Holy Name Middle School students Raven and Sara.
The rise of tech created new challenges beyond merely scaling to the increased volume. Many of the tech companies resided in congested downtown areas with nowhere that a Volunteer in a car could pull up even for a quick curbside hand off. Thus, in 2014, Food Runners instituted a Bike Courier program.  Two years later, in response to rapidly increasing demand, Food Runners added two part-time Van Drivers to pick up congested area donations too large for the bike trailers.  My duties between 2003-2019 went from managing 200 Volunteers and one full time truck driver for 200 pick ups per week to managing 400 Volunteers, one full-time Truck Driver, three Bike Couriers and two Van Drivers for an average of 700 pick ups per week.  

Nancy and Volunteer Sally G at Food Runners bi-annual Volunteer Appreciation Party. May 2019.
But, the best part of my job as Food Runners Dispatcher and Volunteer Coordinator, has always been the relationships. From Volunteers like Eloise Joans, the first Food Runners Volunteer I ever met, to Recipients like Kristy Fairchild, Director of North Beach Citzens, to Donors Jo Licata, Community Projects Manager at the SF Hilton, it’s the relationships that have meant the most. Beyond preventing waste and alleviating hunger, it is the Food Runners community that fills my heart. It’s been a great ride. I am grateful for the opportunity to have served such a special organization for sixteen meaningful years. Thank you, everyone.