Guy Fieri’s ‘Grocery Games’ show is big food donor to Santa Rosa shelter

Those served by the Redwood Gospel Mission in Santa Rosa are eating a little high on the proverbial hog these days, thanks to donations of food from Guy Fieri’s locally produced television show “Guy’s Grocery Games.”

The Food Network game show has been donating leftover items from each episode - thousands of pounds of food a week - to the mission for the past year and a half. Fieri’s production team had told the Journal when the show was moving to Santa Rosa that the leftovers were going to charity, but until recently the recipient wasn’t made public.

“It’s impacted a lot of people,” said Chris Keys, director of shelter and recovery ministries. “Guy was extremely grateful for what we do here, and he wanted to make sure we received food from the show. That benefits our mission.”

The mission picks up food after each show session, five days a week during the four-month recording season. The show is the mission’s biggest food donor. Regular donations of food come from Trader Joe’s, Oliver’s Market, Safeway and Raley’s stores and private donors. Using donated food, the mission feeds up to 350 people a day at its five facilities.

Last year, the show relocated from Southern California to a warehouse in Industry West Commerce Center off Todd Road in Santa Rosa. The space was transformed into a 15,500-square-foot grocery store, “Flavortown Market.” It’s the set for “Guy’s Grocery Games,” a reality-type show in which four skilled chefs compete against each other to prepare dishes with ingredients they pull from the shelves of the “store.”

In an interview for The Food Network, Fieri said the set offers a more widely “eclectic” and international mix of products and a better layout than what’s found in the real world.

The food that gets donated to the mission includes a little bit of everything, Keys said. There’s fresh produce, pork, beef, chicken and shrimp. Recently, they received boxes of Peking duck.

“It’s of a quality we don’t typically get from other donations,” Keys said. “It’s really noticed by the homeless population.”

The mission, with its landmark neon “Jesus Saves” sign that has lighted up the corner or Sixth and Wilson streets for five decades, began as a 14-bed shelter in 1963. The mission now mobilizes the community to minister to the needy through a variety of services including vocational training, jail ministries, outreach events, and thrift stores. It also provides a separate emergency shelters for men and women, and transitional housing for the homeless, and runs faith-based substance abuse recovery programs for men and women.

This Thanksgiving the organization will again feed about 5,000 people in need at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds and provide another 1,600 families with grocery bags of holiday meal fixings, including a turkey.

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