Volunteer Information

Include below are volunteer best practices, FAQs, food safety information and marketing materials for distribution.  ( Thank you so much to Susan S, Sigal K, and  Molly R for editing and contributing to the portion of  Best Practices)

Volunteer Food Safety

  • Peninsula Food Runners Food Safety Guide (volunteers are required to take this food bank certified test before volunteering)

  • Regular Runner who pass the test will be supplied insulated bags or blankets for food runs.

Volunteer Best Practices

What are some of the best practices for a wonderful and successful food run experience?

These tips are offered by experienced Volunteers who have worn black bean as accessories on their clothes or have had interesting conversations about aroma in their cars. The Indian air freshener by far was the most popular scent!

  1. Read the confirmation email to gather details about the Donor, Recipient and the back-up Recipient.

  2. Consider the use of GPS, Google Maps or check your route before you begin the new run. We include the map route in your account for food runs you have signed up for.

  3. To save time and gas, are there any errands you can do before and after the food runs? Consider signing up for two food runs if the donors are close in proximity.

  4. Again, read the confirmation email in detail, some Donors request to call/text in advance (15-30 minutes) to confirm food availability. This will prevent unnecessary trips. Inform the Donor of your expected arrival time and encourage them to have the food packed up. Ask if there is a cart available or let them know that you may need help in transferring the food into your car.

  5. Consider a plastic shower liner or towels to protect your car interior in case liquid leaks during the delivery. If you choose to invest in a plastic rectangular container, please consider a plastic container that can fit the standard 12.5 X 20 inches food aluminum trays. I find this to be the best in containing the spills. These storage containers can be found in Ikea or Target and you don't have to invest in the lids. Most cost less than $15 dollars.

  6. When you call to confirm food availability, please remind the Donors to drain out any foods with too much liquid. i.e. black beans, Indian food, etc.

  7. The Health Department suggest all Donors to indicate on their donation the following information with a sharpie: The type of food, the company name, the date, and time of donation. Please remind the donor the information has to visible for the recipients to see.

  8. Holiday Schedules Varies: Please take note to always check your account to ensure your food runs are still on-going. Please check for the following:

  • Your Food Run is being routed to the same recipients especially if you are a "Regular Food Runner"

  • Make sure your Donor hours are still the same

  • Pass on any schedule changes to info@peninsulafoodrunners.org. This is the best way for program manager to take note of changes.

What happens if I accidentally assigned or assigned myself to a food run but changed my mind ?

Here are 2 actions you can take unassigned yourself:

  1. Notify program manager by sending an email to support@peninsulafoodrunners.org (please attach your food run confirmation email to your request)

  2. Please check a day or two later to see if you have been unassigned or if the food run is still posted in your account

  • Check in ChowMatch, under "Volunteer" and go to "My food runs" Scroll to see if the food run still exist in your food run list. If it's not longer in your account, it has been removed from your responsibility and has been released back into the ChowMatch platform. If it is still in your account, send another reminder email to support@peninsulafoodrunner.org

Volunteer FAQs

What other supplies should I consider having on the food runs?

We recommend keeping a box of hand wipes, disposable gloves, and paper towels in the car when transporting food.  An folding cart is an option in case one is not available at the donor site.

What should I expect to receive as a Volunteer?

Due to the influx of runners, Volunteers who have accomplish ten food runs will get a T-shirt and a badge.  Regular Food Runners who have passed the Safety Awareness Test and have signed up to be a Regular Runner (one food run a week) will receive T-shirt, and identification badge.  

What is the best strategy to transport multiple trays of food i.e. 15-20 trays of food?

Here is one strategy I have used when dealing with many trays of food.  If you have a trunk that is lined and ready to be loaded: Start the first layer of the heaviest trays (mostly rice, pasta, potatoes, meats…) and have all trays positioned going in the same direction.
The 2nd layer of lighter trays (breads, vegetables, salads etc..) are then stacked perpendicular on the top of the first layer of trays. This crisscross stacking distributes the weight of the trays and will hopefully limit the leakage.

The donor or recipient has requested a change in schedule. What should I do?

Please convey the message immediately to support@peninsulafoodrunners.org. This is especially helpful during any government or religious holidays and seasonal celebrations. Also, please let the Donor and the Recipient know that they can access their account with their email and password and manage their vacation time or cancellation of food runs at www.peninsulafoodrunners.org

What should I do if I cannot get in touch with the contact person at the Recipient location?

Sometimes, while patiently waiting, you might be able to get another staff or client to help you.
The second option is to take the food to the recommended back up Recipient.  Below we have listed recipient agencies that are open 24 hours a day.  This information is also provided on our website. 

I called the Donor and the Donor confirmed there was no food. Do I need to contact the recipient?

Remind the donor to cancel the food run online so that an email message goes out to all parties.

Can a Volunteer get a tax write off for volunteering?

Although you cannot get a tax write off for your time volunteering, you can get a mileage write off.  Please access your  account on Peninsula Food Runners website to see all the food runs that you have done for the calendar year, print the information, and then consult your accountant.  

Here are the steps to retrieve your miles from your volunteer account. 

1. Go to peninsulafoodrunners.org and click on Login.

2. After logging in, select "My Food Runs" in the drop down menu.

3. Click on "My Past Food Runs" (the link is at the bottom of the page)

4. Scroll to the bottom and to see the total mileage of all your food runs. 

For any food runs perform prior to May 17, 2017 please contact us for your list of food runs. 


Can I apply my volunteer time with Peninsula Food Runners to my employee volunteer program?

Certainly! You can retrieve all your time from your Peninsula Food Runner account and supply it to your company’s Human Resource Group.  Also find out if your company will financially match your volunteer hours to Peninsula Food Runners.   i.e Intel contributes $10 for every hours an Intel volunteer accomplishes. 

I am a mother of two and my time is split between sport practices, errands etc.  Are there food runs that are suited to my schedule?

Yes!  The flexibility we provide our Volunteers is one of the features that many Volunteers like best about volunteering with us. Our system is set up to be flexible. Many on-call runs are posted between 1-5 pm and are available for anyone to volunteer on the spur of the moment.

What are regular food runs versus on-call food runs?

"Regular" food runs are when a Volunteer decides to support a Donor or Recipient on a regular basis.
Presently we have regular runners who support single or multiple food runs that are either weekly or twice a month. These runs can be shared among other Volunteers or friends. 

When a regular Volunteer is unable to fulfill the food run, they notify Peninsula Food Runners (ideally 2 days prior or ASAP) so the administrator can re-release the food run to be posted on the ChowMatch system. This step allows the community of Peninsula Food Runners Volunteers the opportunity to temporarily support the food run. This is a temporary release (a period of time requested) expires, we assume the regular food runner will resume their food runs.

An “On Call" food run, on the other hand, is a food run that is released a short time before pick-up and usually on the same day the meal is served. This allow Donors to assess the quantity of food in order to determine if it is of sufficient volume to donate. We ask for donations that can feed 10 or more people.  The best time to check for On Call Runs is between 1 -5 pm daily.

If I am doing multiple food runs, should I allow the first donor to pick out only what they want?

  • We would like to treat all our recipients with respect and as fair as possible. We prefer that the recipients take the donations delivered without sorting through what is preferred. If food is to be shared, the Volunteer should consider dividing food and donating a complete meal as possible to each recipient. A complete meals makes up of protein, vegetables, and carbohydrate.

Who should I call in case I am in the field and cannot get hold of anyone?

Please call the office (415) 826-6903 or Liz, PFR program manager 650-996-2812.

I am a regular runner for an account but I am going on vacation.  What should I do?  How should I notify you?  

All Runners can set their own vacation days or breaks.  The system will release the food runs to the Chow Match platform for other  volunteers to help support your account and when you return, the system will post the food runs back into your account. Here are the steps to setting up your vacation time.  Please only enter your vacation mode 4-7 days before the day you will be absent. 

login email and password

Click on Volunteer (pull down menu)

Click on Volunteer account

Click on Volunteer profile

Scroll down to Vacation mode  

Enter the range of time off

Scroll down and Submit

In the event that you have a last minute event, please email us at support@peninsulafoodrunners.org.  Please include your name, company name and the date/time of the food run. 

There is lot of remaining untouched food at a party that I just attended and I would like to take it some where that the food could be enjoyed. Where can I go?

North San Mateo County -  Daly City, Brisbane, South San Francisco, San Bruno, Millbrae etc.

  • Safe Harbor Shelter: 295 N. Access Rd., South San Francisco (24/7)

  • Catholic Worker Hospitality House 555 W. San Bruno Avenue, San Bruno (4 pm-9 pm) and the house at 672@ 2nd Street, San Bruno (11 am -4 pm)

  • The Vendome Shelter: 415 E. 2nd Avenue, San Mateo ( 7 am-10 pm)

  • First Steps for Family: 325 Villa Terrace, San Mateo ( 8 am-9 pm)

South San Mateo County -San Mateo, Belmont, San Carlos, Redwood City, etc.

  • Maple Street Shelter: 1580A Maple Street, Redwood City (24/7)

  • Spring Street Shelter: 2686 Spring Street, Redwood City (8 am-9 pm)

North Santa Clara County - Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Mountain View, Sunnyvale, East Palo Alto etc.

  • Project We Hope: 1858 Bay Road, East Palo Alto (4 pm - 12 pm and 11 am-4 pm by appointment only)

  • East Palo Alto Senior Center: 560 Bell Street. (10 am- 5 pm. Call 650-329-5900 to set-up after 5 pm deliveries)

Mid Santa Clara County - 

  • Julian Street Shelter: 546 W Julian Street, San Jose (24/7)

  • Home First: 2011 Little Orchard Street, San Jose (24/7)

    Marketing Material for Distribution

    I am thrilled about your mission to reduce food insecurities and food waste! How can I help ?

  • Adopt a food run of your choice and become a regular runner.

  • Share our mission and what we stand for: We help alleviate hunger and food waste in our communities! Send them to our website at www.peninsulafoodrunners.org.

  • Recruit volunteers to become Food Warriors (highest needs are in Northern San Mateo and Santa Clara County)

  • Solicit your favorite food businesses or companies to donate their surplus. We are always looking to rescue good eatable food that can help feed hungry bellies.

  • Make a monetary donation. It is complicated and time consuming to manage our work, and we can always use more resources to be more effective.

  • Here are additional Marketing material for your use (still in workings)

  • Letter for Donors 

    Letters for Friends and Families

    Letters to request for Financial Donations