Archive for November, 2012

Thanksgiving

Monday, November 12th, 2012

The Food Pantry will be closed the Friday after Thanksgiving. We’re grateful for all of our volunteers, and the whole community that makes this work possible.

You can support us through the holidays by making a donation: it costs us just $1 to provide groceries for a family for a week, and your $50 gift will help feed a family for a whole year.

Please make checks to The Food Pantry, and mail to 500 DeHaro, San Francisco CA 94107. All donations are tax-deductible.

We give thanks for you!

Fall/Winter 2012: Seasonal Eating

Monday, November 12th, 2012

Most of the food we give away is fresh produce

Unlike many programs that rely on processed foods and canned goods, The Food Pantry gives away mostly fresh fruits and vegetables. Thanks to the San Francisco Food Bank and its network of farmers, we give away literally tons of delicious, healthy produce every single week. And we’re always grateful for smaller, super-local donations from neighbors who offer us apples, figs, lemons and more from their backyard gardens. If you live in San Francisco and want to share what you grow, give us a call!

We’re still enjoying the last of a spectacular watermelon crop. Soon the citrus will come in, along with apples and pears, cabbage, turnips, potatoes, yams, beets and greens. In every season, we’re so glad to be able to give real, fresh food to the families we serve.

Fall/Winter 2012: Behind The Scenes

Monday, November 12th, 2012

Food Runners delivers

Every Thursday, we get a call from Paul O’Malley, a volunteer driver with the San Francisco-based Food Runners. “I got your bread,” he says. “Dropped it off, see you next week!” And there, at the door of St. Gregory’s, are large bags full of fresh whole-grain loaves, baguettes, rye rounds, and seeded rolls.

Food Runners is a brilliantly simple and incredibly effective nonprofit started in 1987 by chef and cooking school instructor Mary Risley, who was appalled by the waste she saw in restaurants. She persuaded some colleagues in the industry to save their excess food instead of throwing it away, so she and a few friends could pick it up in their cars for delivery to local shelters and food programs. Today, Food Runners has over 200 volunteers like Paul, who make runs in their own vehicles, as well as its own truck and driver for large pickups. In San Francisco, more than 250 restaurants, bakeries, groceries, caterers, company cafeterias and farmers’ markets regularly donate perishable food that would otherwise be thrown out…as do individuals with food left over from one-time events like weddings, company picnics, holiday parties or bar mitzvahs. Food Runners collects it all, and brings the food to hundreds of pantries, after-school programs, shelters, soup kitchens, and children’s centers.

Coordinating, dispatching and arranging pickups and deliveries is the work of Nancy Hahn, director of operations for Food Runners and a passionate supporter of groups like The Food Pantry. “We want to prevent waste and build community,” she says. “Why throw away perfectly good food? There are hungry people who could really use it right now.”

Nancy sends The Food Pantry plenty of bread every week, and she calls us when she has unexpected bounty: last month it was surplus box lunches from a week of conventions, with gourmet sandwiches and cookies, as well as huge untouched trays of cheese and fruit. “600 lunches at the Palace. 600 at the Grand Hyatt. Another 150 at the Marriott,” says Nancy. “It was positively raining food!”

If you live in San Francisco and have food to donate, call Food Runners….a smiling volunteer will come pick it up! If you have time to offer, call Food Runners…Nancy will send you to collect food and deliver it to someone who needs it. You might even find yourself at The Food Pantry, where a grateful group of our volunteers will help unload your car. Food Runners, 415-929-1866.

Fall/Winter 2012: Talking With Our Volunteers

Monday, November 12th, 2012

Volunteer Angel Jamaica with 101-year old Pantry visitor

More than fifty volunteers run The Food Pantry at St. Gregory of Nyssa Episcopal Church in San Francisco. Most are people who came to get food and stayed to help out; some are neighbors, and some are first-time visitors. Every one of them has a story, and together they create a living, growing community. This issue’s interview is with Angel Jamaica, 19, who’s one of the leaders at The Food Pantry.

I was born in San Francisco, and grew up here and in Oaxaca. My mother was super-nice. She solved everything with hugs and kisses. She’d always want to go out to the woods, out of the city. She had to get fresh air.

My mom loved helping people. She’d even let strangers stay in our place. I think that’s where I got my thing from: I’m the guy everyone comes to when they’re in trouble. I just say, “Hey, you can talk to me, it’s OK, we’ll work it out.”

When I was seven, we had to leave the cool apartment we were living in. I started switching schools like crazy. My mom and I lived in uncles’ houses, then it got worse: shelters, even the car. But we always stayed together, and that’s what made it bearable to be crammed into a two-door car.

Eventually we got a place in Potrero Hill. I had my own room for the first time in my life. I have a lot of good memories of that apartment, like Mom’s cooking. She’d have the whole table covered in food, and she’d put things together and taste it and experiment. Nowadays I like to spend time in the kitchen throwing stuff together.

I started going to The Food Pantry after my mother contacted St. Gregory’s for help. She was really sick. Everyone knew that at the pantry, and they let me go in first. I’d get this heavy sack of food and have to carry it up over the hill. It was always painful to leave my mom alone. I try to repress the memories.

When I was fifteen, my mom died, and my world turned upside down. I didn’t know how to do anything. I just thought, “Keep going; there must be a reason for it all.”

I started volunteering at the pantry out of gratitude: my mom always taught me to help out. I wasn’t very social, but everyone at the pantry treated me like family, and it became my family, all through high school. My first job was doing heavy lifting, cause I’m a big guy. I looked silent and scary, but people figured out I was a softy. They made this nickname for me: “Baby.” Michael and Eduardo and Kathleen taught me how they run things, and now I get to greet people, work on the line, mediate if there’s a conflict, show visitors around the church, help out whenever something falls through the cracks. A great thing is when the volunteers eat lunch together. It’s beautiful, like the Last Supper––but it’s never the last.

I love my job at the Pantry. It makes me happy when I can help the older women who come. Even if it’s just a bag of food, we’re helping.

12th Anniversary Celebration

Thursday, November 1st, 2012

Come celebrate with us as we mark our twelfth anniversary! Friday, November 2 at 11:45 AM….