Shelter Meal Program

The Shelter Meal Program at St. Ignatius Parish serves San Francisco residents in need solely through the work of volunteers.  Volunteers prepare wholesome meals for our brothers and sisters who, for whatever reason, find themselves homeless, without permanent shelter, or in need of assistance.  

Program Goals:

·   Serve those in need with compassion and without judgment or expectation.

·   Prepare, deliver, and serve nourishing meals using fresh, seasonal ingredients that celebrate the diversity of our community.

·   Support community based organizations that advocate for social justice and provide needed services to men, women, children, and families.

·   Foster the spirit of love through service and in the words of Pope Francis, “…be an instrument of God for the liberation and promotion of the poor...” (Evangelii Gaudium, 187)

·   Build community within the program’s volunteer base to inspire continued growth and development of the program.


Program Description:

The Shelter Meal Program provides approximately 12,000 meals to shelters and meal programs in the Tenderloin, Western Addition, Bayview, and Mission districts of San Francisco.  The program, with the support and effort of volunteers from the parish and greater community, prepare dinner meals two weekends, Saturday and Sunday, every month of the year and on additional scheduled days throughout the year.  The program works with community based organizations in San Francisco that offer supportive services and shelter daily to men, women, children, and families in need.  Volunteers also deliver and serve the prepared meals to the community based organizations hosting the meal service.  The program’s partnerships with community based organizations include:

Bayview Senior Services (holiday and special occasions)

Hamilton Family Shelter (year-round)

Hospitality House (year-round)

Missionaries of Charity (year-round)

San Francisco Interfaith Council (winter months)

St. Joseph’s Village (year-round)


Volunteer Opportunities:

Cooking takes place in the industrial kitchen in Fromm Hall on the USF Campus. You do not need to be a master chef to volunteer as a cook. Cooking duties range from cutting up fruits and vegetables, buttering bread, helping clean, to a more common idea of cooking – i.e. grilling, sautéing, etc.  All cooking duties are assigned by a lead volunteer chef who is experienced in preparing meals for the Shelter Meal Program.  The lead chef, prior to the cooking shift, has planned the meal and the cooking strategy for the day.  He or she will guide the volunteers through the meal preparation steps and organize the food for transport to local shelters and community organizations.  Preparing over 300 meals in the span of a few hours is hard work but the spirit of the kitchen is warm and collegial. 

Serving meals takes place at the Missionaries of Charity location/s and Hamilton Family Shelter year round.  When volunteering to serve meals at a Missionaries of Charity location/s, a volunteer can expect to serve between 100 and 150 adults.  When volunteering to serve meals at Hamilton Family Shelter, a volunteer can expect to serve 100 individuals consisting of men, women, children, and families.  During the winter months, volunteering for San Francisco Interfaith Council winter shelter locations, a volunteer can expect to serve between 60 and 100 men.  At each of these locations, volunteers have the opportunity to chat with the people receiving needed services and a nourishing meal.  Through serving a simple meal, a volunteer’s eyes and heart can be opened to families who must pack their belongings up and move into a shelter or men and women who come in from the streets or from dark, lonely rooms to have a meal.

Delivery is needed year round to several locations.  A volunteer can sign up to deliver to meal site and in some cases two, depending on the location.  Volunteers use their own vehicle to transport and deliver food.  The great gift of delivering the food is the warm reception from the staff at our partnering organizations and very often from the men, women and children themselves receiving the meal.  Because it takes only an hour or so on Saturday or Sunday afternoon, this is a wonderful service opportunity for busy families. 

Baking is another way to volunteer.  We have an ongoing request for homemade baked goods.  Volunteers are able to bake in their own home and bring the homemade baked goods to the kitchen in Fromm Hall on the USF Campus before 2:00 pm on scheduled cooking days and designated special occasions and scheduled holidays. These homemade treats are a simple gesture we can offer to those who miss the joy of polishing off a good meal with a fresh baked chocolate chip cookie or a slice of homemade cake.

What day is best for you? Do you want to cook, serve, or deliver? Which dates, shifts, and sites still need volunteers? To find out, please take a look at the schedule by clicking on the link to the right titled, “Shelter Meal Program Schedule.”  ***Updated daily.***

We appreciate and welcome volunteers from the community at large and the parish community.  Teens/children are also welcome to volunteer to cook and/or serve. Children under 13 years old must be accompanied by an adult.


Therese Cannata
(925) 890-9897
Tiffany Kearney
Bill Pisaruck

Links to additional information:

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Website by Trevor Goss