Pennies from heaven? No, it’s the 30th Penny Pitch

Pennies sailed through the air outside Moose’s Restaurant on Monday in an annual contest that raises enough money for at least 2,500 meals for The City’s hungry.

Since its beginning 30 years ago, the Memorial Day Penny Pitch in North Beach has raised a total of $1 million for the St. Anthony Foundation, which feeds 2,600 people daily at its dining room in the Tenderloin.

Monday’s contest was expected to raise the most yet, more than $50,000.

Moose’s Restaurant owner Ed Moose, who started the tradition, explained that, 30 years ago, a bar challenged his business to a soccer match. He knew he didn’t have a chance, since he had only six employees, so he suggested pitching pennies instead. And when he looked around his establishment, Moose saw “all kinds of fat guys” and decided to do “something for people who are hungry” as well.

“Penny pitching goes back to everyone’s youth, so it brings out a feeling of family and community,” said Patricia Breslin, executive director of the Hotel Council of San Francisco.

The nonprofit foundation, run by Franciscan monks, operates on a $12 million annual budget and has a 180-member staff. The foundation also has medical services for the uninsured and drug treatment programs.

John Hardin, executive director of the foundation, said he is seeing more people in need.

“We’re busy,” Hardin said. “You don’t like to be busy in this kind of business.”

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