Holiday Fund: Feeding our less fortunate neighbors


• Donations to the Almanac's Holiday Fund benefit St. Anthony's Padua Dining Room and nine other local community service organizations. Donate today.


Story by Bob Dehn, a volunteer at St. Anthony's Padua Dining Room.

Mariano is a long-time volunteer at St. Anthony's Padua Dining Room, the large soup kitchen in Menlo Park. Each day he helps serve hot food to some 350 patrons, who line up to get a warm meal, surplus groceries, and human contact.

Typically, Mariano's charge is to serve the daily main course. On the tray each hungry guest places before him, he adds a large serving of roasted chicken, meat loaf, stew, mac and cheese, or whatever is on the menu.

As hungry folks press forward, Mariano greets each person. He extends a jovial welcome and broad smile as each person continues down the line for a serving of salad, vegetable, bread, fresh fruit cup, juice or coffee, and dessert.

St. Anthony's operates through the work of more than 200 dedicated core volunteers. Whether they are serving on the food line, handing out bags of surplus fresh produce and foodstuffs, assisting at the free clothing distribution center, or handing out new toys for Christmas, volunteers don't asks questions about anyone's status. They know that when one is vulnerable, even basic inquiry can feel immensely threatening.

Mariano looks across the large Dining Room toward a group of senior gentlemen who come several times a week. The hot meal served here and the take-home bread and vegetables help stretch their limited resources.

They also come to the Dining Room to interact with friends and to socialize with other regulars. This is an important factor for many and they place the friendship and camaraderie high on the list of benefits of the Dining Room.

Mariano often wonders about their life stories and what brings them to St. Anthony's, but he may never know because he never asked questions.

"The mission of the Dining Room is to provide a hot, nutritious meal to anyone in need," affirms Max Torres, the operations manager at St. Anthony's. "There are no fees, no questions, and no one is turned away."

St. Anthony's relies on donations and grants from individuals, local businesses, and foundations. At present, St. Anthony's is gearing up for the holiday season when the need for meals and services nearly doubles and additional programs take place, such as the annual free Christmas toy give-away. St. Anthony's need for cash donations is particularly great at this time.

• Visit or call (650) 365-9664 to learn more about donating to and volunteering with St. Anthony's Padua Dining Room, at 3500 Middlefield Road in Menlo Park. The Dining Room serves a hot, nutrition meal from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Saturday, 52 weeks a year.

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Like this comment
Posted by Tom Turner
a resident of Portola Valley: Los Trancos Woods/Vista Verde
on Nov 28, 2016 at 4:20 pm

Tom Turner is a registered user.

My family left a large Thanksgiving party in Atherton and on the way out there were large containers of food that had not been eaten. It is a shame that these amount could not be donated. Is there a way to donate without getting a lawyer involved if a person gets a little sick.

Like this comment
Posted by be happy
a resident of another community
on Nov 28, 2016 at 6:53 pm

be happy is a registered user.

Tom, food commercially prepared, such as from a caterer can be donated. If st. Anthony's won't/can't accept it, the opportunity center in Palo Alto will. Just pull up and drop it off.

Like this comment
Posted by Jack Hickey
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Dec 22, 2016 at 11:38 am

Jack Hickey is a registered user.

St. Anthony’s Padua Dining Room has broad community support.
Why do they continue to accept taxpayer dollars from the Sequoia Healthcare District?
This first began when Don Horsley, then President of the Board, invited them to apply for a grant. This is an unnecessary blemish on an otherwise outstanding organization. Originally, St. Anthony’s Padua Dining Room website's donation page contained the following: "Each one should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver"(2 Cor.9:7)" (from St. Anthony de Padua website in 2011). That has been removed.

Like this comment
Posted by Melissa Downing
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Jan 22, 2017 at 4:22 pm

I also met Dan Gold from Palo Alto and Josh Bonds among the volunteers. What lovely folks. Had a great time serving those in need and the church did such a great job. Everyone who volunteered was super. This soup kitchen is open every day except sunday! How nice

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