Holiday Spirit

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.

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2021 Recipient Agency

Boys & Girls Club of the Peninsula
Provides after-school academic support, enrichment, and mentoring for 1,800 low-income K-12 youth at nine locations across Menlo Park, East Palo Alto, and the North Fair Oaks neighborhood of Redwood City.

Ecumenical Hunger Program
Provides emergency food, clothing, household essentials, and sometimes financial assistance to families in need, regardless of religious preference, including Thanksgiving and Christmas baskets for more than 2,000 households.

Health Connected
Serves over 5,000 students and their families each year through comprehensive sexual health education programs. Students learn to have ongoing communication with parents and to make informed decisions that will apply to their lives, now and in the future.

Provides shelter/housing and supportive services across 18 sites in Silicon Valley and the Peninsula. Serves thousands of homeless families and individuals annually on their path back to permanent housing and self-sufficiency.

Literacy Partners
Provides free literacy services to adults in the Menlo Park area. Trained volunteers work one-on-one to help adults improve reading, writing and English language skills so they can function more effectively at home, at work and in the community. Basic English classes, weekly conversation clubs and volunteer-led computer enrichment are also offered.

Ravenswood Family Health Center
Provides primary medical and preventive health care for all ages at its clinic in East Palo Alto. Of the more than 17,000 registered patients, most are low-income and uninsured and live in the ethnically diverse East Palo Alto, Belle Haven, and North Fair Oaks areas.

St. Anthony's Padua Dining Room
Serves hundreds of hot meals six days a week to people in need who walk through the doors. Funded by voluntary contributions and community grants, St. Anthony's is the largest dining room for the needy between San Francisco and San Jose. It also offers take-home bags of food, as well as emergency food and clothing assistance.

St. Francis Center
Helps low-income, working families become self-supporting members of the community by providing long-term solutions through educational programs for children and parents, as well as after-school programing at Siena Youth Centers. St. Francis Center also provides housing, food and clothing services to address short-term needs.

Serves more than 32,000 people throughout San Mateo County, including children, young people and families, with counseling, prevention, early intervention, education, and residential programs. StarVista also provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention services including a 24-hour suicide crisis hotline, an alcohol and drug helpline, and a parent support hotline.

Upward Scholars
Upward Scholars empowers low-income adults by providing them with financial support, tutoring, and other assistance so they can continue their education, get higher-paying jobs, and serve as role models and advocates for their children.

As of January 14, 2020
167 donors have contributed $150,000
to the Almanac Holiday Fund.
* indicates amount withheld

23 Anonymous22400
Jerry & Shirley Carlson250
James E. Esposto*
Sherrill Swan1000
Dorothy B. Kennedy*
Kathy & Bob Mueller100
Barbara Jacobson150
Penny & Greg Gallo500
Lucy Reid-Krensky100
Dorothy Saxe100
Joe & Julie Zier100
Roger & Pat Witte100
Kathy & Bob Feldman500
Susan Kritzik & Bruce McAuley500
Paul Welander75
Victoria Rundorff*
Lynne Davis*
Donald Lowry & Lynore Tillim100
Laura Hofstadter & Leonard Shar500
Brennan Family200
Douglas Keare Jr. & Jill Morgan1000
Leslie & Hy Murveit200
Karin Eckelmeyer100
Mark Weitzel10000
Connie & Bob Lurie5000
Bob & Mary Dodge300
Barbara & Bob Ells500
Barbara & Bill Binder*
Gail & Susan Prickett500
Ron & Carol Clazie*
Michael & Lenore Roberts150
Margaret Melaney200
Linda Keegan200
Andrea G Julian500
Anne Hillman1000
Lynne S. Fovinci50
Sybille Kats*
Lorraine Macchello100
Bob & Marna Page*
Robert & Barbara Simpson*
Susan Carey2000
Clay & Nita Judd*
Elizabeth Tromovich100
Robert & Connie Loarie*
Tate Family10000
Anne G. Moser*
Del Secco Family*
Robert L. Mullen250
Thelma L. Smith*
Robert & Karen Allen50
Don & Catherine Coluzzi*
Paul Perret500
Barbara L. Bessey*
Margaret & Jamis MacNiven100
Susanna Tang & Albert Scherm300
D Austin Grose500
Carole Mawson100
Charles Martin250
Bill Wohler419
Marcia Makino250
Duncan & Jean Davidson*
Susan Hine100
Amy Roleder100
Betty Meissner150
Tricia Wright2000
Joyce Pharriss250
Joan Lane1000
Ken Ashford75
Ann Morgan*
Kathy & Bob Feldman120
Pegasus Family2000
Sandy Shapero500
Erika L Crowley*
Calhoon Family500
Earlune Mund200
E.R. & B.L. Dodd175
Frank & Betsy Stockdale1000
Mary Kenney*
Christina & Bill McClure100
Wanda Cavanaugh100
Mike & Leslie Crisp100
Renee Chevalier500
Jonathan Hahn50
Gary & Roma Wagner250
Charles Bacon & Cynthia Dusel-Bacon200
Bettina Mcadoo500
Susan Ellis & Mark Linton*
Kayleen Miller100
Sue & Viole100
Gordon Chamberlain600
Gisela Brugger1000
Bruce & Ann Willard1500
Ann Treadwell*
Maggie Mah & Thomas Johnson*
Marc & MaryAnn Saunders*
Judy & Doug Adams*
Volckmann Famkly2000
Stamler-Kemeny Family750
Melanie Austin500
Barbara Kent250
Linda Craig & Evan Hughes250
Steve Patrick100
Dorothy Polash200
Kerry DeBenedetti*
Linda Maki150
Betsy & Horace Nash500
John Barbour30
Mary Cooper50
C. Friesman100
Dianne Ellsworth250
David Reneau150
Michelle Rapp1000
C. & B. Thompson225
Bobbie & Gale Fullerton100
Noble & Lorraine Hancock500
Stan Scott75
Donna Mackowski200
Kathryn Stivers1000
Tom & Joyce Dienstbier*
Frank & Nancy Sammann10
Annie Nunan200
Terri D. Bullock Family2500
Jim Lewis*
Kenneth M. Ashford193
Bob Barrett & Linda Atkinson250
In Memory Of

Peter Hurlbut100
Jerry Carlson of Woodside*
Annie Strem*
Louise Bertolucci25
Jean Zonner1500
Esther Johnson100
Ted Heidinger250
Bill Land*
Jean Zonner1500
Penny Gamel*
In Honor Of

Nancy Stevens*
The Liggett Family*
Dennis McBride250

Carstens Realty10000
Menlo Park Rotary Club Tour de Menlo Bike Ride20000
Griffin & Sons Construction150
Menlo Park Firefighters Association500
Narrative Histories - Maggie & Mark da Silva200
Hewlett Foundation8750
Packard Foundation15000