Food Runners

Wednesday, February 23, 2022


Vicki Ehrlich, Volunteer

Food give away in progress at North Beach Citizens
I found out about Food Runners in the summer of 2020, when, in one of the endless pandemic Zoom meetings that were taking the place of work at the San Francisco Opera, there was a discussion in the Orchestra about ways we could reach out to our community.  One colleague had volunteered in the Food Runners kitchen and had had a great, friendly experience.  It was easy to look them up and sign up, and I went for driving, thinking that at my rather advanced age I would err on the side of caution in the pre-vax times, and I was curious to see where the food was going.  (I was also driving and packing for the SF-Marin Food Bank, whose copious bags go to housed individuals and families.)  By driving various routes, I learned about some of the destinations of the tantalizing-scented entrees and desserts, plus often fresh fruits, salads, and donated fancy baked goods:
  • North Beach Citizens, a neighborhood treasure on Kearny St. offering food, clothing, housing advice and employment help.  (As a contrast often seen in San Francisco, they are right across the street from Larry Flynt’s Hustler Club, who “NBC” told me is a great neighbor and frequent donor.) 
Food pantry day at orth Beach Citizens. Food deliveries by Food Runners.
  • (Name and location withheld for security), a shelter for domestic abuse victims, which has an elaborate spy-like drop off routine involving cameras, safehouses, and no in-person contact with the drivers. In a quiet, unsuspecting neighborhood, it did seem very safe.
  • City Impact's S.F. Rescue Mission, another full-service charity. My drop off there approaches through hopeless-looking streets lined with boarded-up businesses, encampments, and litter, but the place itself has the cozy, cheery atmosphere of a social club, and I admiringly watch their highly organized welcome to all who enter.
S.F. Rescue Mission aka City Impact
Telegraph Hill Neighborhood Center
I have a few regulars, both volunteers and beneficiaries, I chat with, and who kindly offer to carry boxes, guard the car, give parking advice, and my favorite, talk about their lives.  Sometimes we don’t speak a common language, and the words, “Food Runners,” plus a lot of miming on both sides gets me in the right door.  We are friends who probably never would have met otherwise.  As one of many drivers who crisscross the city between donors, the kitchen, and drop off sites, I know there are so many other creative, local, connected groups who have found a way to make SOMETHING better in a world that the news tells us is going down the toilet.  We can make the news liars!