Every year on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, the GLIDE Foundation serves free holiday feasts to anyone in need.
Volunteers at the San Francisco charity work in shifts, carving turkey and ham for breakfast and lunch. The setting feels a lot like a restaurant, or even a family dinner, which was the goal of the program's organizers.
“Everyone not only deserves access to a good meal, but access to what comes along with that meal,” said Campbell Barbee, who’s in charge of GLIDE's free meals program.
Guests sit at round tables under white canopies, much like at a backyard gathering among friends or relatives.
"It's a warm environment," Barbee said, "just like you'd experience when you have your family come over to your house."
GLIDE provides free meals almost every day of the year, but this weekend feels more festive and draws more than the usual crowd. About 4,200 meals will be served in-person by the time the holiday weekend wraps up.
GLIDE also delivers.
The charity’s outreach workers—who serve as case managers for unhoused and low-to-no-income clients—loaded a van full of food to bring to anyone who couldn’t make it to GLIDE’s Tenderloin headquarters. In all, they brought about 400 meals to people’s homes this weekend.
“It’s really cold outside, and we’re trying to get people just the basics, just food,” outreach worker Felanie Castro said while loading the van for her second consecutive shift of the weekend. “Before anybody can do anything, they need to eat.”
Watch the video above to get an inside look at the volunteers, clients and organizers keeping people fed, warm and full of cheer for the holidays.
Jesse Rogala can be reached at [email protected]