Visitors to St. Anthony's Padua Dining Hall are served a hot lunch in November 2018. Photo by Adam Pardee.Posted December 11, 2019
Offering a free meal in a safe, friendly place
by Bob Dehn, St. Anthony's Padua Dining Room volunteer
St. Anthony's Padua Dining Room has been providing a free meal in a safe, friendly place for 45 years. With welcoming hospitality, we ask no questions and turn no one away. We provided a remarkable 230,000 hot meals and take-home bags of food and over 30,000 articles of free clothing in the past 12 months.
We seek to reduce the fear of food insecurity in our local community of southern San Mateo County. We help lessen the fear of where the next meal might come from, as our guests know that we are a stable organization where anyone can enjoy a free meal Monday through Saturday.
This year the Dining Room's service to the community was publicly recognized by the Menlo Park Chamber of Commerce with a Golden Acorn Award, along with a proclamation by the city of Menlo Park, which cited, among other contributions, over 5 million meals served to the community since the Dining Room started in 1974. The Dining Room was also recognized by the Redwood City Council with a Welcoming Stars award for creating a welcoming environment for everyone in our community.
Thanksgiving and Christmas are the busiest days of the year, when we serve as many as 800 meals on these holidays. In conjunction with the Menlo Park Fire Protection District, toys are collected during the Christmas season for our annual giveaway just before Christmas, when as many as 2,000 children receive these gifts.
St. Anthony's Padua Dining Room, at 3500 Middlefield Road in Menlo Park, serves from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Saturday. In addition to the meal, guests may take home a bag full of food including fresh produce and bread items. We also provide basic health consultation two days a month through the assistance of a San Mateo County public health nurse.
The Clothing Distribution Center offers free clothing, shoes, blankets, sleeping bags, and baby and infant wear to over 1,000 patrons a month. Adjacent to the Padua Dining Room, the clothing center is open Wednesdays for women and Thursdays for men.
St. Anthony's, one of 10 organizations supported by The Almanac's Holiday Fund this year, is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization. It is funded through donations and grants from many individuals, local businesses, and foundations.
The operating costs to serve over 230,000 meals this year is significant, and additional donations are always welcome. The operation requires nine full-time employees, with more than 200 dedicated core volunteers and other helpers who serve as many as 35,000 volunteer hours a year. New volunteers are always welcome and appreciated.