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San Francisco Chronicle: Bay Area food banks need help ahead of holiday

November 20, 2013

San Francisco Chronicle: Bay Area food banks need help ahead of holiday
Reposted from the San Francisco Chronicle
Written by Kevin Fagan, San Francisco Chronicle staff writer  
Article originally published on the front page of the San Francisco Chronicle, Nov. 20, 2013
View the original story here >>

Blame it on this month's cut in food stamps. Or stubbornly lean times for the poor. Or Thanksgiving coming later in the month this year.

They all boil down to this: Bay Area food banks and other charities that hope to lay out a traditional Thanksgiving feast for the poor next week are running well short of turkeys and other staples of a good holiday meal. And unless they get a heaping helping of last-minute luck and donations, there's going to be more grief than gobble this year for those struggling to get by. …

As of Tuesday evening, the San Francisco and Marin Food Banks were short 800 turkeys.

Every year brings a call for more donations, but this year seems different, charity managers said. And not in a good way. …


Paul Ash, executive director of the San Francisco and Marin Food Banks, said that not only is his nonprofit short hundreds of turkeys, but also donations are running about $1 million shy of where they should be this time of year.

"As we come out of the economic downturn, people are looking away from giving to food banks and more toward the arts, things like that," Ash said. "They kind of make the assumption that with the stock market being so high, and so much prosperity coming into San Francisco, that maybe people don't need as much as they used to. But it's just not true."

More poor

U.S. census data show that while great wealth has accumulated at the top end of the economic scale in the past few years, the number of Americans living in poverty rose from 13 percent in 2008 to 15 percent in 2012.

The Public Policy Institute of California, using locally tailored numbers, said that without government aid, the figure for poor people in California would be 30 percent overall and 39 percent for children.

Federal figures also show that 20 percent of the nation's children go hungry every night, and in San Francisco the total is 25 percent, according to a city Food Security Task Force report due Thursday.