Food Runners


SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — The number may surprise you. Forty percent of the food produced in the U.S. is thrown away. Meanwhile, many people every day don’t have enough to eat.  One organization has figured out a way to bridge that gap.

Its ‘passengers’ don’t talk, but this nonprofit called Food Runners looks a lot like Uber.

“Food Runners is a mostly volunteer organization in San Francisco that picks up excess food from businesses and takes it to neighborhood feeding programs.” Mary Risley, the founder of Food Runners, told Ivanhoe.

It dawned on her 30 years ago, when Risley had food left over every day at her cooking school. Food Runners was born.

Risley continued, “Sometimes I would have leftover duck, leftover wedding cakes. All sorts of good, edible food. What do I do?”

The answer took shape in Risley’s house as a good idea, but with no money.

“We now have a budget of four-hundred-thousand a year and we estimate we pick up and deliver fifteen tons of edible food that would otherwise be put in the garbage or the compost a week.” Risley said.

Peggy Barbieri, a volunteer for Food Runners said, “She’s a fighter.  She’s going to make sure we tackle this hunger problem.”

More than 450 grocery stores, restaurants, and businesses donate to food runners. As a result, hundreds of programs throughout San Francisco are getting the help they need.

“We care about our community. We care about the people. And so donating to food runners is the right thing to do.” Said Luciana Villanueva, a manager at Gus’ Community Market

And it’s done quickly. Food Runners gets an alert from a business via phone, online or by an app and will have the donation picked up and delivered to the needy within two hours.

Philip Gerrie, a soup kitchen volunteer at Martin de Porres House of Hospitality stated “Instead of being wasted, thrown away it can wind up in a soup to feed people.”

“All human beings need food. I just think its remarkable how many generous people there are who are wanting to help their fellow citizens.” Risley said.

Risley estimates that Food Runners provides enough food for 3,000 meals a day in San Francisco. Thankfully, this model is gaining traction in other places across the country like d-c, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut.  For more information, log onto

Contributors to this news report include: Jennifer Winter, Producer; Rusty Reed, Videographer; Roque Correa, Editor.

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