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."