On my way home from Thanksgiving dinner, I walked down Capp Street in the Mission, fully bloated and lightly buzzed from an over abundance of great food, good wine, and a mild case of self-satisfaction over having won two games of Celebrity. I had just spent the past eight hours feasting and laughing with friends. As I turned the corner onto Mission Street, I saw a man sitting on the sidewalk. He stared at me and I stopped in my tracks and stared back for a moment. He didn’t ask me for anything and I realized then that I didn’t have anything to offer him. No leftovers, just a bagful of dirty dishes and a book of short stories by Saki. The warm, fuzzy glow of the evening I had just spent evaporated and all the casseroles, turkey, and pie turned to cement in my stomach. It was clear that our respective celebrations of the holiday differed. I felt thankful that his experience was not mine and impotent to do anything about improving his. The exchange lasted about three seconds.

If you are reading this, chances are you own a computer and pay for online service, which means that, in all likelihood, you can afford turkey and, if not all, then some of the trimmings. Like me, you probably spent Thanksgiving with friends or family or both, either sitting about a giant dining table stuffing yourselves silly, or milling about a party, drinking and grazing your way through relish trays and pumpkin cheesecakes (Please tell me you didn’t spend the day locked in your bedroom, quietly drinking). Whatever the case, the chances are slim to none that all the food was consumed.

What can you do wth the leftovers? Apart from salivate over Madame Laidlaw’s ideas from yesterday’s post (I am a sucker for a good quesadilla), you might think about donating food to your local food bank, if your feast of plenty was too plentiful.

Of course, most places aren’t going to accept a couple of slices of pie or a pile of turkey skin. Most food banks request items that are in some sort of packaging, but I wonder, since there was a shortage of deposits at local food banks this year, according to Maris Lagos of the San Francisco Chronicle. When you are shopping next year, buy an extra thing or two and just give it away– nearly every grocery store has some sort of food drive happening.

I suppose we should think ahead to next year, not that one need only give on Thanksgiving. If you’re saddled with cooking dinner for 20, why not push that number a little higher. Feed an extra person or two. Or twenty. If you are affiliated with a particular church or mosque or temple or glee club for all I care, find out if they are involved in any feeding programs, like Glide Memorial Church, for example.

If there are organizations that accept cooked food from private homes, I would very much like to know. Why not bake a pie for a total stranger? It’s a not-so-random act of kindness.

If you are in the restaurant industry and have a surplus of holiday fare, contact Food Runners in San Francisco, they’ll know what to do with your leftovers.

During this time of year, we’re supposed to take time out of our lives to think upon what it is we are grateful for. Last night, among other things, I was grateful I wasn’t that guy sitting on the sidewalk on Capp Street. I have promised myself that next year will be different. Not that I will be that guy sitting on the corner, mind you. I’ve just realized that I actually can do something, which is get up off my lazy, self-involved ass and give something, whether it be time, food, or money. Most likely time or food, since I don’t have any money. I suppose it would be unethical to suggest that, while you are giving food and time to those in need, you make large monetary donations to me. I am thankful that I know better than to make that particular request.

What Else You Can Do with Leftovers 14 November,2010Michael Procopio

  • Kelli of FoodieBytes

    Excellent post. This has been weighing on me for the past few days, particularly after I read Jen’s post (link:http://droolstreet.blogspot.com/2007/11/tradition.html) She works for a homeless shelter and she has compelling thoughts on the topic – namely, that she wishes folks would donate more evenly throughout the year.

    Again, thanks for the reminder of how good most of us have it. And yes, if one has an Internet connection, one could probably afford to do a little something, right?

  • Anonymous

    Lovely post!

    Donating food to a foodbank = good.

    Donating money where a $1 donation equals $9 of food purchasing power = excellent.

  • Fatemeh

    Hey Michael –

    I’m so glad you posted this; I had a strikingly similar experience on Wednesday as I was picking up some provisions.

    On Friday, I packed up two paper plates with leftovers, grabbed some plastic forks & knives, and gave them to the homeless man in my neighborhood.

    Next year, I plan to do the same but to hand those meals out BEFORE we sit down to dinner.

  • Michael Procopio


    I just followed the link to droolstreet and read Jen’s article. Yup, that’s pretty much what I’ve been thinking, but she has already put her thoughts into action. Much respect to her for that.


    If you know of a place where a $1 donation equals $9 of food purchasing power, let me know!


    I get the feeling that this is not an uncommon experience in San Francisco. And I hope to God that no one has criticized you for using plastic utensils. I have the feeling that is not an uncommon experience here either.

  • Krizia

    I hope you had a happy Thanksgiving, and thanks to this post, a lot more people will hopefully be having a happy one next year too!


Michael Procopio

I am terribly fond of martinis, Edward Gorey, and sleeping with many pillows.
You are more than welcome to follow me on Twitter: @procopster

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