In 1985, a San Francisco grandmother and retired food-service worker named Ruth Brinker looked around at what were the early days of the AIDS epidemic. After seeing a close friend with AIDS suffer from malnutrition, Ruth knew what needed to be done – feed her neighbors.
She began by preparing meals in her kitchen for seven neighbors with AIDS. She brought meals to their homes, along with a friendly smile, an encouraging word, and a healthy dose of love. And with this, Ruth founded Project Open Hand.
Ruth’s vision of meals with love is still alive and is the motivating force behind everything we do at Project Open Hand. We continue to serve people with HIV/AIDS, and have expanded to feed seniors and people fighting cancer, heart disease, diabetes and many other serious illnesses.
As more people heard about Ruth’s “project” in the mid 1980′s, more requests started coming in for home-delivered meals, so Ruth put out a call for volunteers. Project Open Hand has not stopped growing since.
In 1989, we started serving people with AIDS in Alameda County.
In 1997, we moved to our current headquarters at 730 Polk Street in San Francisco. We also have a Grocery Center in downtown Oakland from which we serve our East Bay clients.
In 1998, we expanded our services and began serving congregate lunches to seniors at various sites throughout San Francisco.
In 2000, we again expanded our reach to provide meals with love not only to people with HIV/AIDS, but also to neighbors who are battling breast cancer, heart disease and many other illnesses.
Today, Project Open Hand prepares 2,500 nutritious meals daily and provides 200 bags of healthy groceries every day to help sustain our clients as they battle serious illnesses, isolation, or the health challenges of aging. We serve San Francisco and Oakland, engaging more than 125 volunteers daily to nourish our community.