Food Runners

Wednesday, April 5, 2023

Operational Update

by Mary Risley

Director, Food Runners

Ladies and Gentlemen; Boys and Girls; Friends and Family,

You know our story to date: 35 years ago, a small group of women and I started Food Runners with the mission of helping our fellow San Franciscans in need. In the spring of 1987, the staff and the San Francisco Food Bank could not handle fresh produce, because they did not have access to clean water to wash their hands. So, we decided to set up a non-profit where volunteers, in their own vehicles, could pick up excess perishable and prepared foods and deliver it directly to the neighborhood agencies feeding the hungry.

Today, with the help of approximately 300 volunteers, and a couple of paid drivers, we are picking up and delivering over 18 tons of edible food each year.

In addition to our food delivery program, we have also had a great crew of cooks, with the help of kitchen volunteers, who produced, packed, and delivered 12,000 individual meals a week in the Waller Kitchen. Thank you, Fernando, and your team, for your hard work!

Now to how our story continues: Fifteen years ago, a man named Marv Zauderer spent many hours picking my brain on how to start and run a food recovery organization like Food Runners. He then founded a very similar program in Marin and called it ExtraFood.

Today ExtraFood is led by Executive Director Will Dittmar, and I am excited to announce that ExtraFood is now partnering with Food Runners to ensure our operations continue and expand in San Francisco. This partnership will allow us to combine our strengths and resources to combat food waste and hunger in San Francisco more effectively. As Director of Food Runners, I will be providing training and technical assistance to ExtraFood to ensure that our operations continue smoothly and efficiently.

We are thrilled to have ExtraFood on board and are confident that this partnership will enable us to make an even greater impact in our community. If you’d like to learn more about ExtraFood, their approach to food rescue, or their accomplishments in our space please visit ExtraFood and subscribe to their newsletter.

ExtraFood Food Recovery Driver Cisco with the ExtraFood truck

Again, I want to express my heartfelt gratitude to everyone who has supported us in the past, and I urge you to continue supporting us in the future. Thank you for being a part of this amazing journey.

Mary Risley
Director, Food Runners

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Update from the Waller Kicthen

by Katherine Blunt

Since opening at the height of the pandemic, the Food Runners kitchen on Waller Street has been transforming bulk food donations into thousands of prepared meals for delivery to about 180 agencies throughout San Francisco. 

The work is critical. A lot of restaurants and businesses closed during the pandemic, reducing the number of prepared meals available for distribution to agencies in need. The Waller Kitchen helps to fill that gap.

Six days a week, a small team of chefs figures out how to make use of hundreds of pounds of food donated from major grocers and markets. Every day requires a new creative strategy, and they have to work on the fly — it's impossible to predict what kind of food will come through the door! 

The team prepares enough food for about 2,200 meals a day. Volunteers work in three shifts to package the food and pack it for delivery. About 120 people volunteer in the kitchen each week, and 300 drivers carry the meals to their destinations. 

The kitchen could still use more help! 

Sign up to Volunteer HERE

Donate Money to Food Runners HERE

Pedro (left) and Edgar (right) each worked for years in San Francisco restaurants. Then the pandemic hit. Now, they are chefs in the Waller Kitchen.

Edgar, who helps lead kitchen operations, has been on staff for about two years and helps create the strategy each day. He likes the challenge of having to decide what to use and what to save for later.

Pedro, who worked for 10 years at a local restaurant, has been with Food Runners for six months. He said he enjoys the variety and the teamwork in the kitchen, where every day is different. 

Volunteers in the kitchen help pack meals. On a recent Sunday, the kitchen prepared chicken stew and pasta salad with vegetables.

Sharath, who works in tech, has been volunteering in the kitchen every Sunday since the start of the year.  He likes meeting new people and the flexibility of the hours. 
"It helps people," he said.  "It's a good thing."