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     DAILY BREAD is a grassroots operation that picks up surplus food from food businesses and brings the food directly to local free-food kitchens, pantries and shelters.

The project, now in its 22 nd year, runs several hundred pounds of perishable food each week to two dozen feeding programs in the San Francisco East Bay Area.

All food runners and coordinators are volunteers, and the organization operates with virtually no budget.

DAILY BREAD has spawned other surplus-food gleaning programs in communities all around the country by offering free consultation on how we got started, commonly asked questions, tips etc. Please download the information and start your own!



a. Organizational Guidelines

b. How We Got Started, step-by-step

c. Commonly-Asked Questions

d.Getting Information about Feeding Programs

e. Milk-for-Kids


Organizational Guidelines

     Since all people are inextricably connected, then by definition, the suffering of any one individual affects all of us. Thus, it is important to take responsibility for the welfare of those in trouble right now, as we hope they would also do for us in trouble.

In a world where people are without food, hunger and waste are incompatible – and immoral. Daily Bread is an attempt to redress that imbalance in one community by taking care of the immediate needs of some of the hungry, and by educating the community about the problem.

By structuring the organization as a non-budget, non-hierarchical, grass-root, volunteer effort, we are:

  • creating an efficiently run effort by using many people, each doing a small task;
  • helping to develop a sense of community amongst people in business; volunteer food runners; food-kitchen staffs and food-kitchen clients;
  • providing a means by which ordinary citizens with busy lives can do a self-empowering act in the face of daunting world problems;
  • demonstrating a different organizational model which requires neither large grants, complex administrations nor a power elite;
  • experimenting with ways of sharing responsibility and power with a group of people;
  • demonstrating the ideals of sharing and responsibility in a down-to-earth, practical manner.



  • growing so large that ‘community’ is sacrificed for ‘success’;
  • allowing any individual to use the project as a way of furthering personal political ambitions;
  • interpreting the work as ‘Charity’;
  • self-righteousness of any kind.


  • mutual networking and cooperation;
  • helping other communities start similar projects;
  • experimentation with collectively-run structures;
  • a multitude of ways to participate;
  • non-competitiveness;
  • FUN! (It’s got to be fun.)



How We Got Started – Step-By-Step

1. We began with 2 committed people, myself and a journalist friend.

2. We decided on a limited objective - to pick up unsold bread one day a week from 2 local bakeries and deliver it to one local food kitchen.

3. We checked into Good Samaritan Laws: Section 58505 SB 26 says one cannot be made libel if an act of kindness results in harm. A bill introduced years later has more teeth. It is Senate Bill #2427, Chapter 735, Section 1714.25. Bring this evidence with you when you speak to owners of food businesses.

4. We talked to the proprietors of our local restaurants, groceries, delis etc. where we shopped, asked what they did with their daily surplus and if they would be interested in donating it if we made it easy for them to do so. Most of them were agreeable.

5. We checked into the local health regulations, but discreetly. We were advised not to ask the Health Department directly, as they would probably turn down the idea, but to learn the local regulations and simply abide by them. (In 22 years of operation, we have never had a problem.)

6. We found a lawyer who helped us achieve non-profit status.

7. We then placed a press release in our local newspaper announcing our plan and asking if others were interested in helping us do some food runs. We explained that no money would be involved; that it would take about one hour per/week; that it would be easy and enjoyable. We appealed to retired people, especially. as well as others. We defined our hopes, expressed our emotions about the situation of hunger in our community. We expected about half a dozen replies; we got 30 in the first week.

8. We kept a record of each caller’s name, address, phone, email, free time and car size and invited them to a potluck gathering at my house. Everybody came.

9. At the gathering, we ate, mingled and got to know each other before starting the meeting. Everyone expressed their ideas, hopes and willingness to participate, and then we got down to specifics: One person knew the owner of a restaurant across town; one was married to a butcher. One person was available to make a run every Tuesday morning; another would keep the records; another would do any graphics we needed, and so on. I offered to coordinate the runs from my kitchen telephone.

By the end of the gathering, we had set up the first of the runs, and the structure of the organization. We chose the name DAILY BREAD and by that Monday, we were in business!

10. Then we wrote another press release for the newspaper, which brought another slew of phone calls offering donations, volunteer runners, and food kitchens wishing to receive food.

11. Starting small was essential. During the first few months we worked out glitches, learning what worked and what didn’t. I kept streamlining the coordinator’s role: pink cards in a shoebox for recipient kitchens; green cards for volunteer runners; white cards for food businesses. (This was before home computers.) Back-up runners were on call for people who couldn’t do their runs. Three months into the venture, everything was running smoothly and people reported enjoying the process as they were making new friends at each stage of the pick-up and delivery.

ADVICE: The coordinator should expect the first 2-3 months to be labor intensive – mostly telephoning and checking out places and people. When problems arise, it’s important that the coordinator resolve them ASAP! Communication, especially at the beginning, is key. Eventually, the organization will virtually run itself, but only if the basic foundation is solid and trustworthy.

12. As soon as the project was running smoothly and dependably, we began to slowly expand the operation, and doing publicity. Offers of everything began pouring in – new donors, new volunteers – and we took them on carefully, keeping the level to what we could comfortably accommodate. Our motto was that we had to all have a good time doing the work – which we did.

13. We hadn’t expected the Gravy, but there it was anyway, in the form of an offer of land, which we turned into a garden; offers of appliances, which we donated to worthy feeding programs; gleanings from backyard fruit trees, gardens, catered affairs, chocolate factories.

22 years later we are still running smoothly – in our third generation of coordinators since I retired the job – and still without a budget.


Commonly Asked Questions, Tips etc

1. Do you conform to local health regulations?

Berkeley’s Municipal Code states that food transportation must go from refrigerator to refrigerator within 2 hours, or by refrigerated vehicle within 9 hours. Easy to conform to. If you live where summers are very hot, your volunteers might use ice chests for summer deliveries. Most runs take under an hour, in fact.

2. How does food get transported?

By each volunteer’s own vehicle. Most volunteers are willing to donate whatever expenses are incurred as part of their offer to volunteer their time. Expenses rtend to be minimal.

3. How do you manage without a budget?

By having many people each doing a small task and covering their own expenses when they occur. Now that people use email, even the expense of postage is not an issue. We also received several small, unsolicited donations to cover small costs. The important ingredient is that the Coordinator be willing to do the job as a volunteer.

4. How much work is involved in being the Coordinator?

For the first month or so you are involved in seeking volunteers, contacting food kitchens and food businesses, doing publicity, and so on. Once the runs are happening the Coordinator has much less to do – mostly trouble-shooting (very important!), and adding on new runs as they are offered. In an average week I have about 6 Daily Bread calls to attend to. When I add on other projects like fruit-tree picking, compiling a Directory of Feeding Programs, then there is more to deal with.

5. How do you contact volunteers and donors?

I started by writing a small article for the local newspaper. It helps if you know someone on the staff, but even a letter to the Editor will do. If you know anybody in the professional food business, call them, ask them for likely contacts. START SMALL! The word will gradually get around, and soon they’ll be contacting you.

6. Can businesses receive tax deductions?

Yes, if you have non-profit status. There is an application fee and unless a lawyer friend offers to do the work, it will cost you something to get it. As it happens, the amount of food given by most food businesses is not large enough to make it worth their while to take a deduction, but it’s still good P.R. to be able to offer it.

7 What if a volunteer is sick or out of town?

Dependability is ultimately what makes all this work. Therefore, it’s essential that runs are made when scheduled to be made. Keep an updated list of back-up people on call. Each volunteer has this list, and finds a replacement when necessary.

8. Do volunteers get burned out after awhile?

Sometimes, yes. Therefore it’s good to have periodic publicity to attract new people so the volunteer list always has fresh faces.

9. What about people who work during the day?

Appeal to the at-home people first: retirees, young at-home parents. Often, people do their runs to or from work; taking the kids to nursery school; weekends when they’re doing errands. Do the best you can to fit each run to the lifestyle, section of town and schedule of each volunteer.


  • If you want to start a project in your own community, make it your own in every way, including the name you give the project.
  • Think ‘Community!’ Have parties, encourage people to get to know the folks at the food kitchens, the other volunteers. It makes all the difference.
  • Don’t let anyone use your organization to further their own personal political ambitions. (We learned this one the hard way.)
  • Take on only as many runs as you have volunteers. If you grow too fast, you’ll end up doing most of the runs – and probably get disenchanted very quickly.


Getting Information About Feeding Programs

General Procedure:
Contact food program and introduce yourself as a volunteer. Ask when they will next be distributing food, and if you can come and help. Explain that you want to learn about their work in order to provide more food for their program. Set up a date to go, and show up!

Questions to ask:

  • Names of responsible people, and all relevant addresses and phone numbers. Expect that these may change often. Keep current.
  • Type of food program; Hot meals? brownbag? How often; how many fed?
  • How much storage space for perishables, non-perishables?
  • Parking situation? Will somebody help you unload?
  • When can deliveries be received?
    Do they have a preferred time for you to come?
  • Can they receive deliveries on week-ends?
  • What kinds of food do they need most?
  • What are sources of most of their food?
  • Other information?

N.B. What is your general impression of the place, the people, the organization?





PURPOSE: To provide a way for the community to do something about local hunger by buying milk for children who need it; to actively bring the message to the hungry that they have not been forsaken by their community; to help feed hungry children.

DESCRIPTION: Coupons are placed near the check-out counters in grocery stores. Shoppers are invited to pay for an extra carton of milk, their coupon is stamped and placed in a convenient collection box. Each week, volunteers redeem the accumulated coupons for milk, which they then deliver to a food kitchen.

WHAT IS NEEDED: A willing grocery store. Explain to the managers that they are selling more milk, not making a donation. You’ll need to design a collection box (make it attractive;) some publicity posters explaining the routine; coupons at the ready; volunteer runners. During the first week or so, have a display table in the store, and someone to answer questions.

Once it is underway, determine how much extra milk the store needs to order; how often to replenish the coupons; who will do the deliveries to the food kitchens.