Holiday Fund: St. Anthony's offers a free meal in a safe, friendly place | January 20, 2023 | Almanac | Almanac Online |


News - January 20, 2023

Holiday Fund: St. Anthony's offers a free meal in a safe, friendly place

by Ruth Gilroy

St. Anthony's Padua Dining Room was founded 48 years ago with the mission of feeding the poor and the fundamental principle that we charge no fees, ask no questions, and turn no one away. All guests are welcomed with dignity and respect and received in a spirit of hospitality. We serve, on average, 9,000 meals per month, six days a week, 52 weeks per year.

Each day one of our homeless guests rides his bike to the Dining Room and requests 12 lunches plus groceries to take back to a homeless encampment where he lives. We watch as he consolidates the food and loads it onto a cart which he pulls behind his bike to take back to share with others in need.

Another of our guests shared her story with us of how she and her family received help from our program. They lived in northern Vietnam under the oppressive communist regime. In 1981 they decided to leave Vietnam and the family of six adults and eight children boarded a small boat and left in stormy weather and rough seas. After four days at sea, they arrived in Malaysia where the Red Cross sent them to a refugee camp for six weeks and then to a second camp in the Philippines where they spent a year waiting to be processed.

Eventually they were sponsored by a family in the U.S. and arrived here in 1982 with very little support and not knowing the language or understanding the culture. Procuring enough to feed themselves was difficult until someone told them about St. Anthony's Padua Dining Room where meals were served to the homeless and low-income families. Every day they would walk to the Dining Room for lunch and groceries, which allowed them to have food security while they were learning the language and working on how to support themselves.

Thanks to all the help they received, the family is now in a position to support themselves and help others in the community who are struggling. In appreciation for the help afforded to her family, the individual in this story has now been a volunteer at St. Anthony's Padua Dining Room for the past 11 years.

St. Anthony's Padua Dining Room is one of the beneficiaries of The Almanac's Holiday Fund. Donations are divided equally among 10 nonprofit organizations and 100% of the funds raised go directly to the recipients. Donations to the Holiday Fund can be made at

St. Anthony's Padua Dining Room, located at 3500 Middlefield Road in Menlo Park, serves from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. daily, except Sunday. In addition to a full, hot meal, guests may take home a bag full of food items that includes fresh produce.

We have a clothing distribution center which is adjacent to the Dining Room, that provides shoes, and clothing for men, women and children, blankets, sleeping bags, and baby and infant wear and diapers.

St. Anthony's is funded by donations and grants from many individuals, local businesses and foundations. The cost of serving over 100,000 meals plus take-home groceries in the past year is huge and additional donations are welcomed and needed. We operate through the work of seven paid employees and a dedicated group of volunteers, many of whom have been with us for years. For information, call 650-365-9664, send email to [email protected] or go to

Ruth Gilroy is a Volunteer at St. Anthony's Padua Dining Room.


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