#DoPublicGood is a project highlighting people or organizations that do good by bike. Each month we’ll be shining a spotlight on those who enrich their community through their two-wheeled advocacy. In this Q&A, The Burrito Project shares their mission to fight hunger in their community by making and delivering burritos by bike.
If you have a nominee for #DoPublicGood, please let us know in the comments and if selected, we’ll send you both a PUBLIC gift certificate.
In January 2017 we’re featuring The Burrito Project in San Francisco. This local group is one of many local volunteer groups under the same umbrella Burrito Project name. The volunteers of The Burrito Project mainly deliver burritos by bicycle to the community living on the street.
We interviewed Jimmy Ryan, one of the main leaders of the San Francisco volunteer group. If you’re in San Francisco, follow this local volunteer group on Facebook or Instagram. Read below as Jimmy Ryan responds to our questions about the group and how people can get involved or start their own similar group.
What’s the inspiration behind the Burrito Project?
The inspiration for us here in SF came about because I used to volunteer with the LA Burrito Project. I started volunteering at a soup kitchen in the Mission about a year ago which inspired me to start our very own Burrito Project here in SF. After a few discussions with the folks at the soup kitchen they agreed to host us and we started Burrito Project SF. The idea is to produce healthy, vegan food and deliver them to folks who need them all over the city. It also helps that I grew up working at my family’s restaurants. I love being able to help feed people who need it.
Who’s behind the Burrito Project and how often are you feeding the hungry?
I started the Burrito Project SF with a lot of support from the soup kitchen in the Mission and other friends who I’d been volunteering with. Since starting it up, a few core volunteers have stepped up and formed an informal committee to help in various ways from recruiting more volunteers, managing our website & social media, shopping for ingredients, and sponsoring the event. Right now there are about 5-6 of us who meet monthly and help plan each event which happens once a month on the last Monday of every month. We have a lot of repeat volunteers but also we get a lot of first time volunteers too. It’s great to meet so many awesome people who are willing to donate theirtime once a month. We are 100% volunteer run.
According to the Burrito Project website maintained by the Portland group, there are over 30 projects operating in North America. Do these various local groups exchange info?
Yes and no. There is no formal coordination between the groups but everyone. I’ve reached out to in other cities has been helpful and supportive in helping get ours up and running. Each city is unique so there are different challenges and logistics necessary in each location. Every month we are learning more and trying to improve the project so we can expand and reach even more people in a sustainable way.
What kind of support do you need and how can people help and get connected with you?
We always can use volunteers! Each month it takes about 15-20 people to prep the food, assemble the burritos, and deliver them. We are also looking for donations that includes ingredients like pinto beans, rice, cilantro, and canned tomatoes or cash donations to help fund the next event. We are 100% volunteer run, so ALL donations go directly to feeding folks living on the street. For $15 we can feed about 20 people.
What suggestions and tips do you recommend for others who might want to start a similar initiative?
Go for it! It’s really fulfilling and even though it might seem overwhelming to get started, it’s totally worth it. Don’t try to do everything on your own. Find a group of friends, colleagues, or other like minded folks that want to help out and work together. Start small. Even feeding 10 people per month is making a difference. Once you get the hang of things, you can slowly scale up and reach even more people.
Homelessness is a multi-faceted challenge. How do you envision this project in the continuum of other services to help the hungry and the homeless?
To be honest, I’m not sure we have thought that far ahead yet. We envision helping out with toiletries and environmentally friendly water in the near future. Our partners at the soup kitchen have been doing this work longer than we have and they provide a lot of services in addition to the meals they serve seven days a week. When we deliver burritos we also hand out cards with the hours the soup kitchen is open and encourage them to visit them.