Local Burlingame businesses donate surplus food to charities


The holidays are not the only time to give back to the community. In fact, many local food businesses donate their extra food at the end of the day to charities all year long.

The Samaritan House is a popular charity of choice for businesses such as Safeway, The Cakery and Kara’s Cupcakes. The neighborhood nonprofit has been working to improve life in San Mateo county since its inception in 1974, forming close bonds over the years with businesses and school districts. The charity opened its Samaritan Family Kitchen in 1985 and has been accepting food donations ever since, often preparing 400-500 meals per day, making it the largest food distributor in San Mateo county.

“We are grateful to have the support of the entire community, including our neighbors in Burlingame,” Samaritan House CEO Bart Charlow said. “Be it Burlingame residents lending a hand in our kitchen or food donations from Burlingame businesses – we take pride in these relationships that allow us to serve our neighbors in need.”

The local Safeway on Howard Avenue contributes “food that is close to the end of shelf life,” according to Matthew Johnson, a manager at the store.

These perishables typically include breads, donuts and other pastries that are picked up daily by volunteers from the Samaritan House. This both decreases Safeway’s food waste and helps the community.

In addition to donating leftover foods, Safeway also takes part in a seasonal food drive to benefit Second Harvest Foodbank from Thanksgiving through New Year’s. Safeway places large bins in front of its local stores where patrons can either bring food from home or buy food in the store to donate. When the bins fill up, a volunteer from Second Harvest Foodbank picks the donations up and ensures their distribution.

The Cakery also donates leftover breads and pastries throughout the year to local schools, churches and the Samaritan House. In addition, the 20-year-old bakery gives food to events put on by the Delancey Street Foundation in San Francisco, a nonprofit that houses former substance abusers and convicted criminals to help them get back on their feet.

“It’s a good cause,” manager Maria Katsanos said. “We’ve been doing that for years.”

Previously, the bakery donated wreath cakes for the Books and Breakfast to benefit the school, and has supported the Burlingame Aquatic Center in various activities. They also have made and packaged cookies for various Burlingame School District events.

Kara’s Cupcakes has been very involved in helping the neighborhood for the past eight years, donating extra cupcakes at the end of each day to the Samaritan House and baking for school, church and other community fundraisers.

“Rather than being wasteful, we would rather give [food] to people who will eat it,” manager Erica Land said. “Ever since we have been part of the community we have tried to help out.”

While Kara’s Cupcakes does not give monetary donations to charities, the bakery gives away $2,000 to $4,000 worth of baked goods each week.

Posted on December 19, 2017 .