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San Francisco Chronicle: Turkey donations pour in to needy food banks

November 15, 2013

San Francisco Chronicle: Turkey donations pour in to needy food banks
Reposted from the San Francisco Chronicle
Written by Kevin Fagan, San Francisco Chronicle staff writer  
Article originally published on the front page of the Bay Area section on Nov. 27, 2013
View the original story here >>

Kind-hearted people from Sacramento to Southern California have responded this past week to the acute need for food donations in the Bay Area by donating thousands of turkeys and other staples of Thursday's big meal - but there is still a need for more in the home stretch, charity managers say.

Among those pitching in was the Morongo Band of Mission Indians in Palm Springs, which trucked in 1,000 turkeys to give to a half-dozen organizations in San Francisco, including Glide Memorial United Methodist Church and the Chinatown Community Development Center.

The tribe has been donating at Thanksgiving throughout the state for more than a decade, and with post-recession economic times still squeezing the poor, the help was more appreciated than ever, recipients said.

"In these difficult economic times when so many are struggling, we are so appreciative that the Morongo Band has again helped provide the blessing of a hot Thanksgiving meal to those in our community who are in the greatest need," said Gwendolyn Westbrook, executive director of the United Council of Human Services in the Bayview-Hunters Point neighborhood, which received 400 turkeys to hand out. "They've always been there for us in the hardest times."

Tom Linton, a councilman for the casino-rich tribe, said the Morongo Band was "honored" to help.

"Even when our tribe was struggling to survive, giving always remained a part of who we are, and that will never change," Linton said.

Los Angeles Clippers basketball player Matt Barnes and state Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, were part of a group that paid for 550 turkeys and drove Tuesday throughout the Peninsula, Oakland and San Francisco handing them out to organizations including the San Francisco Lions Club.

The San Francisco and Marin Food Banks was short nearly 1,000 turkeys in mid-November, but after a Chronicle story ran a week ago, donations poured in at such a rate that by Tuesday the organization was short just 200. Managers were hopeful more last-minute help would take them to their goal by Thanksgiving.

"We will happily take more turkeys," said Blain Johnson, spokeswoman for the organization, which supplies 240 food pantries throughout San Francisco and Marin counties. "They will all get good use."

Across the bay, the Alameda County Food Bank has also seen a rush of help, including 600 hams donated Monday by Safeway and the food maker Hormel.

"People tend to think about food banks and hunger relief during the holidays, so that's our biggest time of year for donations," said Mike Altfest, a spokesman for the food bank. "And we are so grateful for that, but really, we need donations all year round. Anytime people are thinking about us is great."

How to help

-- San Francisco and Marin Food Banks: 900 Pennsylvania Ave., San Francisco. Call (415) 282-1907 for hours.