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FoodRunners in San Francisco Redistribute Excess
Sarah Kuck, 9 Dec 08
Food Runners arranges food pickups from hotel kitchens

and restaurants using trucks donated by UPS.

Photo credit: Nancy Mullane/NPR

When it comes to population and limited resources, it's not so much a matter of not having enough to go around, but of making sure that what we do have goes around equally. Finding ways to redistribute resources from those who have too much to those who have too little, especially in tough economic times, can make a big difference in a lot of people's lives.

A great example of this is San Francisco's food redistribution organization FoodRunners. Composed of volunteers, a coordinator and a UPS delivery truck, the organization makes a huge difference in the Bay Area by moving excess food from those who have it to those who don't.

Using the refrigerated truck, the volunteers pick up "leftover" food from restaurants, farmers’ markets, hotel kitchens and even local homes and deliver it to shelters and group homes daily. Those with extra food can call the FoodRunner hotline and either schedule a pickup, or receive an address of a nearby location where they can deliver it themselves.

Mary Risley, a well-known San Fran chef, started FoodRunners with help from a few other food professionals in 1987. The founders wanted to be proactive about addressing hunger in San Francisco. After years of creating massive amounts of food for banquets, parties, and cooking classes, only to throw the excess in the garbage, they came up with the idea to redistribute the leftover food using a few trucks and a phone line. Now, more than 20 years later, the organization has more than 200 volunteers and delivers more than 22,000 pounds of food per week to people who need it most.

Ideas for redistributing resources easily and practically are worldchanging because they combine simple methods for sharing with modern technology. By matching the right existing tools to the mission, organizations like FoodRunners transform community problems into community solutions.

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