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Making strides against hunger
May 13, 2013, 05:00 AM By David A. Egan Daily Journal correspondent

John Dresser’s goal is to provide a healthy hot meal to the deprived children and senior citizens in San Mateo County. The Hometown Hunger Hero nominee has been making great progress addressing the issue through his contributions with Second Harvest.

He just turned 70 and shows no signs of slowing down.

Second Harvest Food Bank of Santa Clara and San Mateo counties is devoted to ending local hunger by ensuring that anyone who needs a meal can get one through its 300 nonprofit agencies. Of those 300 agencies, Dresser works with Brown Bags, Kids Now and Family Harvest.

Dresser, with the help of several volunteers, packages and distributes food every Tuesday to the disabled senior citizens in San Bruno, Daly City and South San Francisco. At 7:30 a.m., the first truck arrives at the Mater Dolorosa parish with the food.

“I help unload and set up in the back,” Dresser said.

A second truck arrives right after with the brown bags. Once everything is unloaded, “the packers start packing and then we all gather to say a prayer,” he said.

At around 9 a.m., Dresser and the volunteers start their deliveries.

What makes the deliveries worthwhile is “that you really build a relationship,” Dresser said.

Unfortunately, he can only stay a few minutes since he has 250 deliveries to do in about two hours. The people are very welcoming, he said.

“We are the only people they see in a week,” he said.

These senior citizens are stuck at home and their children live out of state.

“They start telling you they are not aware of the programs available to them and we carry around a San Mateo County Handbook for doctor services, housing, whatever it is,” Dresser said.

They are grateful for the information, he said, adding he appreciates he can at least put a smile on their faces.

Dresser first volunteered with St. Vincent de Paul at St. Veronica’s parish, but he noticed the program could use more regularity.

“We encouraged people in need once a month or five weeks to call and saw that they needed food on a weekly basis,” he said.

He along with Mary Beaudry, Brown Bag supervisor, came up with the idea of Brown Bag Second Harvest, which would deliver groceries every Tuesday. The next step was trying to find a bigger spot.

At that time, Margarita Lee was working at St. Veronica’s and approached Father Rolando de la Rosa from the Mater Dolorosa parish,

Dresser said. Father Rolando obliged. Since its inception on April 15, 2008, the deliveries have grown from 60 to 250 deliveries of brown bags.

Along with the Brown Bag program, Lee started the Kids Now program after she saw a classroom full of juvenile delinquents at the Boys & Girls Club instead of a high school. According to Lee, the children had done some time for stealing food, because they were not getting enough meals at home. She wanted to meet the needs of hungry children and families by providing them with free nutritional food to take home.

“Many families come on Tuesday to pick up food so they could distribute it to the kids and John has been a major help with that,” she said. Every Tuesday, John has been a major contributor to both programs at the Mater Dolorosa Parish as he delivers and packages food. About 150 families receive fresh produce, milk, dairy, eggs, and some kind of meat and canned goods, Dresser said.

With all that he has done for his community, Dresser feels he has accomplished his goals so far.

“It makes me feel good that I see people getting the goods,” he said. “It has done wonders for me and has made me believe again.”

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