Jefferson Awards for Public ServiceBy Sharon Chin

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — A man who coordinates the distribution of up to 20,000 tons of food in San Francisco each week is the Bay Area’s latest Jefferson Award winner.

Les Tso works for Food Runners, the 33-year-old San Francisco nonprofit that picks up excess food from stores and restaurants and delivers them to neighborhood food programs.

“I’m humbled that we can be helpful for them,” Tso said.

Even though it’s his day off as Food Runners operations manager, Tso has been bringing free food every Sunday for months to some 100 seniors sheltering in place in their apartment building.

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Tenants association president Margaret McNulty was worried that the elderly would go hungry during the pandemic, so she contacted Tso.

“Luckily, Les has pulled through with this Sunday bonanza, a smorgasborg of food that we couldn’t live without,” McNulty said.

Patrick Montaner is grateful he doesn’t need to walk to the nearest grocery store four blocks away for essentials like eggs and produce.

“To bring it back, it’s heavy. I hardly can walk,” Montaner said.

“I liked the fact that I was helping helping people every day,” said Tso.

He started volunteering for Food Runners in 2018. Within two years, he quickly rose through the ranks. He became a part-time delivery driver, dispatcher, then operations manager in the spring.

During the pandemic, Tso is doing much more.

Because many high-tech businesses stopped meeting on site during the pandemic, company cafeteria donations have dropped.

So Food Runners began filling the gap with meals prepared by chefs and volunteers.

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Tso oversees the distribution of up to 2,500 meals a day, six days a week, to agencies serving the hungry. And he is quick to come to the rescue if he hears anyone is in need.

“We have food going to places regularly, but theres’s always extra,” he said. “I hear people are starving, we want to respond quickly to get them food.”

So for going above and beyond to meet the needs of San Francisco’s hungry, this week’s Jefferson Award in the Bay Area goes to Les Tso.

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