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Delivering Smiles: A Spotlight on the Home Delivered Groceries Program

Posted April 25, 2013

MOWSF Blog | Volunteer News

MOWSF Volunteer Richard Levitin prepares to deliver groceries on a Wednesday morning.

MOWSF Volunteer Richard Levitin prepares to deliver groceries on a Wednesday morning.

Every Wednesday morning, the loading docks at Meals On Wheels of San Francisco are bustling – full of volunteers loading assorted bags of groceries into their cars. The food is part of Home Delivered Groceries (HDG) Program, which, through a partnership between MOWSF, the San Francisco Food Bank The food is part of Home Delivered Groceries (HDG) Program, which, through a partnership between MOWSF, the San Francisco Food Bank and Self-Help for the Elderly, provides groceries to qualifying clients once a week.

Like clients paired with Friendly Grocery Shoppers, those receiving home-delivered groceries can still cook for themselves. It’s getting to and from the grocery store that is the real challenge. However, HDG clients are low income and, without the donated food, they would be hard-pressed to afford groceries and in danger of malnutrition.

As part of the program, seniors receive two bags of groceries every week. These are filled with staples such as bread, eggs and meat, as well as seasonal fruits and vegetables and canned goods. The Food Bank compiles these items through a mix of purchases and donations from sources as varied as national corporations to local grocery stores. (Read more about the program here.) After they load up, the 15 HDG volunteers then distribute the bags via their own cars to 110 seniors across the city.

Patricia Hunter began volunteering with MOWSF after she retired from working at UCSF. The HDG program resonated with Patricia as she has witnessed the difficulty some of her older friends have getting around. She and fellow volunteer John Odell were paired off as delivery team right away. Working with John, whom she describes as a dedicated volunteer and a great driver, is one of the highlights of being a MOWSF volunteer.

“But what I enjoy most is the pure joy on the faces of the people I deliver to,” she says, “especially those Russian ladies who speak no English but ‘talk away’ to me.  I believe they are expressing heartfelt gratitude but I can’t be sure!” Despite the language barriers, hugs and kisses are exchanged. “I know they can’t wait until Wednesday morning rolls around, and they are given two copious bags of food,” she says.

MOWSF’s Home Delivered Groceries program began as a pilot program in 2010 with about 60 seniors on the route. We are poised to grow the program and would love to expand the number of volunteers involved! If you are interested volunteering, contact Danie Belfield, Manager of Volunteer Engagement, at dbelfield@mowsf.org or 415-343-1311.

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