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San Francisco’s Food Runners—200 grassroots volunteers save 16 tons of perishables weekly

Mary Risley in her cooking school kitchen in San Francisco
Food Runners

Mary Risley, founder of San Francisco based Food Runners, talks about the grassroots organization that provides 15,000 meals every week to low income and homeless citizens. Every week, more than 200 volunteers pick up leftover food from hotels such as the Hilton San Francisco Union Square, Westin St. Francis, and Park Central, grocery stores, Starbucks, tech and law firms, schools, bakeries, restaurants, caterers, and more. 

Food Runners supporters include Kaiser Pemanente and Laguna Honda hospitals, and corporate cafeterias such as Cisco, Twitter, Adobe, Linkedin, Google, and Uber.

Seven days week Food Runners volunteers deliver perishable and prepared food to more than 300 non-profit agencies such as St. Anthony’s Dining Room, senior residences and centers, group homes, drop-in centers and more.

Correspondent Tom Wilmer visits with Mary Risley at the Hilton San Francisco Union Square conference room where she shares her passion and vision of providing food to those in need. 

Risley notes that, “40 percent of the food produced in the U.S. is discarded, wasting not only good food but also the precious resources that were used to produce it.”

Alleviating hunger and preventing waste in San Francisco

Food Runners volunteers relay food for over 5,000 meals in San Francisco each day. Whether it is called Food Waste, Food Rescue, or Food Recovery, Food Runners is a leader in the effort to keep edible food from being discarded.

Food Runners picks up excess perishable and prepared food from businesses and delivers it directly to neighborhood food programs.

You can donate food online or call (415) 929-1866  

Mary Risley (L) visits with Jo Licata at Hilton San Francisco Union Square
Credit Thomas Wilmer
Mary Risley (L) visits with Jo Licata at Hilton San Francisco Union Square
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Tom Wilmer produces on-air content for Issues & Ideas airing over KCBX and is producer and host of the six-time Lowell Thomas award-winning NPR podcast Journeys of Discovery with Tom Wilmer. Recorded live on-location across America and around the world, the podcasts feature the arts, culture, music, nature, history, science, wine & spirits, brewpubs, and the culinary arts--everything from baseball to exploring South Pacific atolls to interviewing the real Santa Claus in the Arctic.
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