Food Runners

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Common Themes

Rori Reber, Volunteer

There are many common themes when it comes to food service and food waste. My background is in corporate events and even the best planning results in leftover food. No successful event can run out of food, and that leads to over-ordering. The same can be said of companies who cater meals for their employees as well as grocery chains selling good-looking food to the public.

It seemed natural when I retired from corporate event work, to bring my passion for food redistribution right where it was needed the most. For three years I have made Food Runners deliveries all over the city. 

Rori picking up at Piperade, pre-pandemic
with delivery to North Beach Citizens.
It was an eye-opener delivering food to recipient services in buildings that I drove by for years and never knew about: the Dore Clinic and Shelter, the All Star Hotel, Golden Gate for Seniors, Mother Theresa’s. I asked about who and how many people were being served. 

When the pandemic hit, Food Runners’ mission quickly changed to using donated food to cook meals and we volunteers met the call to action. 

Truck Driver Jose with a Whole Foods donation.
I was pleased to jump right in and fill a huge need that got bigger every day. When I started, the kitchen at Waller Center prepared 1,200 meals daily. Now it’s grown to 2,000 meals a day, sometimes more. This production of meals is a tribute to everyone’s hard work and contribution.

Rori working with Les
There are many common themes to Food Runners’ volunteering: first, there’s a sense of purpose - everyone’s there for the same reason; second, it’s a way to really connect in this time of social distancing. We wear masks, aprons and gloves and our work stations are 6 feet apart. Volunteering at waller kitchen is a great source of information; I have found out about what’s trending, new places to shop online, cafes that are open, travel tips, Netflix series… all the conversations and friendship making things that help create community. I often see the same faces (you can recognize people under a mask after awhile!)  and we keep up with each other’s stories. This sense of community is an important part of our commitment.