How Food Donations Turn into "Blue Plate Special" at GLIDE

GLIDE is a radically inclusive, just and loving community mobilized to alleviate suffering and break the cycles of poverty and marginalization. For this Community Story, we spoke with George Gundry, GLIDE’s Director of the Daily Free Meals program to hear how food donations support the great efforts at GLIDE.


A Little About George:

He’s been the Director of the Daily Free Meals program for 2.5 years and helps facilitate serving 2,000 meals a day.

Can you share some history about GLIDE Memorial Church and how the Free Daily Meals Program got started?

GLIDE Memorial Church has been in the location since the 20’s. Lizzie Glide and her husband struck oil and Lizzie built the building as a Methodist church, with current program space built to be a dormitory for working women in San Francisco. Cecil Williams and Janice Mirikitani arrived in early 60’s and revolutionized the church. Cecil opened the doors to everybody, all denomination, all sexes, and all different types of people. Cecil introduced “Radically Inclusive” to Glide. He began addressing the needs of people in the Tenderloin. Cecil was part of the civil right movement in U.S., was here for AIDS epidemic and crack cocaine epidemic. Cecil has been welcoming and taking care of the community for 50+ years.

Glide is the only congregate site in San Francisco serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day. We serve more at the end of the month when resources are thin. Our doors are open to anyone and everyone. The Daily Free Meals program began through the church as a Tuesday evening potluck. Church members would bring in whatever they wanted and we just started serving outside. It grew into what it is today…. Now, we heavily rely on 85 volunteers a day.

Why are food donations important in your community?

Half of the food Glide serves is donated with the other covered from our budget. We get bulk from the San Francisco-Marin Food Bank, whereas companies like Replate and Copia provides us the opportunity to serve high quality, delicious food that our clients will not be able to get elsewhere. Sometimes we serve salmon, rack of lamb, sometimes steak, chicken, and lots of ethnic food. Replate provides us with variety of food for our clients.

The other thing is the financial burden. When we serve high quality proteins, salads and pastries that, we would not be able to provide on our own. Our clients enjoy special treats.

How are the food donations supporting your organization?

[The donations we get] have been consistent. We have gotten to the point that we have such faith that the two companies will show up that we even plan a meal around donations; because we know, they will show up. We will turn Thursday and Friday donations into our dinner. Friday’s is the “Blue Plate Special,” meaning whatever comes in on Thursday and Friday is what we are serving. We have created entire meals from what you donate.

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