Food Runners

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

What's Happening Now?

by Mary Risley, Director

Food Runners Meal Program ready for action.
(photo credit: Stephanie Meyer)
Hi Everyone – Thank you so much for your continued support of Food Runners.  You may ask “what has Food Runners been up to since the virus outbreak?” And, here is the answer:

Chef Todd cooking in Mary's kitchen              and in Waller Central kitchen
In the first week of the San Francisco lockdown, a young chef called Todd Corboy contacted me about cooking for the hungry.  So, we started a "Partnership” as they say, where he started cooking from donated food in my kitchen.   He borrowed gigantic pots, stood on a milk crate, and stirred with a gigantic whisk, and made things like chilli and vegetarian soup.  His fellow cooks were Josiah, Marcella, and her sister,  Karlla.  These things were then chilled outdoors on ice and then put into individual containers to distribute to people in need by Food Runners.

     Individual container in fridge                            Ready for distribution
You see, places we normally take food, like Glide, NorthBeachCitizens and Martin DePorres are not allowed to serve meals indoors; so, they are giving individual containers of food to their clients on the sidewalk out front.  Also, there are many low-income apartment buildings were the residents have to stay in their rooms because one or two of the residents have tested positive for the virus.  What Les and Perla and various FR Volunteers are doing is distributing these meals to these agencies and SRO’s to help alleviate hunger.

Sandwiches ready to be individually wrapped for outdoor hand out.
After two weeks, the whole operation was moved to the kitchens of the Waller Center (formerly known as Hamilton Methodist Church) in the Haight.  With a larger kitchen, Todd was able to greatly expand the operation.  With two more cooks and a host of Volunteers, he is now supervising the production of approx. 2,000 meals a day, that is delivered six days a week to agencies feeding the hungry—all from donated food in a donated kitchen.

Former Hamilton Methodist Church now know as the Waller Center
(photo credit: Stephanie Meyer)
In the first couple of week, Food Runners was picking up masses of excess food from bars, restaurants, and deli’s in SF that were closing.  But, now most of the donated food that Todd and his crew is cooking with comes from grocery stores such as Whole Foods, Gus’s Market, and Trader Joe’s.  We also pick up twice a week from the SFProduceMarket.  We are very grateful for ALL THE FOOD that is donated and welcome more.  If you know, anyone with a business in SF with excess food, please tell them about our service.

Volunteers hard at work with Todd (left) and Les (right)
Another really remarkable thing that is happened in the last 4 or 5 weeks, is that we have more than doubled the number of FR Volunteers; from just under 400 to well over 800.  Granted some of the new Volunteers didn’t live or work in SF; and, may go back to work in time; but we are very grateful for the extra help now.  It is truly remarkable how much this calamity has drawn people together and led them to want to help each other.  Not only is Food Runners, expanding by cooking meals for people in need, but we are getting more recognition, more Volunteers, and more money!!!
Thank you everyone so very very much,
Mary S. Risley

Volunteers on the line
(photo credit: Stephanie Meyer)

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

What It Means to Me

by Mary S. Risley

As I approach my 80th Birthday, I have been thinking about how fortunate I am!  Just think I could have been born into a family with an absent father and an addicted mother; I could have been born into a family where all the kids were born before the mother was 24 years old; or, I could have been born with mental health problems and no possible care.  Nothing is for sure in this world!  I could be an addict myself hanging out around the corner; I could be cleaning houses for a living; or, I could be living on the streets in San Francisco, unable to take care of myself responsibly.  So could we all!  I sincerely believe that not living on the streets is a matter of having good luck; making good decisions; and having the right guidance in life.

As a resident of San Francisco for the last 50 years, I still don’t know what I can do to help the homeless with housing; but, what I do know is I can help get them food.  And so can you!  Thanks so much to the Volunteers, one paid truck driver, and several part-time bike couriers of Food Runners who, together, are making almost 700 food runs a week which amounts to approximately 18 tons of perishable and prepared foods to agencies feeding the hungry in San Francisco. This is enough food for 24,000 meals a week!

I fully realize how many requests for money you get each year; but, please, please help support our remarkably efficient grassroots non-profit organization, which soon will begin its 33rd year.   Please send a check to Food Runners, 2579 Washington St., SF, CA 94115.  Or, donate through

Mary S. Risley, Director

Monday, January 13, 2020

A Food Runners Christmas Carol

by Linda Murley, Executive Director

When I was a little girl my mother was a Sunday school teacher and I was one of her pupils. I remember coloring bible story pictures: a star, a manger, a donkey, a lamb.

Union Square at Christmas
I stopped going to Sunday school when my mom became a Lou Reed groupie, (it was the 60’s)but  Sunday mornings have remained a time for reflection. I do a food run on Sundays and this holiday season has been especially rewarding. My run is from Haight St. Market to an adult rehab program. These programs, along with the homeless shelters and soup kitchens in the city are sanctuaries for the people who come there to rest, sleep, eat.

The sign outside Walden house offering sanctuary.
On December 24th Food Runners’ staff and volunteers saddled up our reindeer and took donations of food to recipient agencies serving those in need. Two programs who feed the homeless: City Team feeds between 100-175 people daily and the Bayshore Navigation Center feeds from 60-100 people daily, depended on Food Runners to supplement their Christmas eve meal offering. Proper Foods, a prolific donor of beautiful and delicious prepared meals, had overestimated the downtown workforce buying lunch on the 24th and had dozens and dozens of meals to donate. A volunteer picked up 400 dinners leftover from a fundraiser, Susie Cakes donated hundreds of cookies and cakes.

AIDS Foundation donation.
Food Runners took donations of food to Arriba Juntos, The Castro Senior Center, the Community Justice Center, the Epiphany Center, the Mission YMCA, Mother Theresa’s soup kitchen, the Sanctuary, the Salvation Army Adult Rehabilitation program, Veteran’s Academy in the Presidio and many others.

Noe Valley Christmas Lights
The Holidays are a time of year when food and volunteering converge. You should know, that with your help, Food Runners’ completes 700 food runs and relays 18 tons of food each week. We do this every week, so I guess you could say we celebrate the spirit of Christmas all year round.

To help with your New year’s resolutions, we present the following research by the Mayo clinic. The 6 health benefits of volunteering:

1. Volunteering decreases the risk of depression.
2. Volunteering gives a sense of purpose and teaches valuable skills.
3. Volunteering helps people stay physically and mentally active.
4. Volunteering may reduce stress levels.
5. Volunteering may help you live longer.
6. Volunteering helps you meet others and develop new relationships

Volunteer Rori Reber picking up the donations at Piperade Restaurant.
I personally think volunteering helps strengthen the empathy factor that seems lacking in some of us today. Sharing and empathy are like any skill…like playing the violin for example. If we do not practice, the music we make on the violin is discordant. If we do not practice kindness and service to others --the music of life -- we can become discordant humans. 

Too another year full of the music and food runs!