SF Chronicle: Food Bank has Thanksgiving turkey shortage
November 16, 2012
The following article is reprinted from the San Francisco Chronicle.
With less than a week until Thanksgiving, the Food Bank is short more than half the turkeys it needs for this year's traditional holiday sharing.
The need for birds is higher than last year, but donations have been lower, said Paul Ash, executive director of the agency which merged with the Marin Food Bank in 2011.
The Food Bank needs 3,300 birds to distribute to 202 agencies that feed the needy. So far, Ash said, it only has 1,563. Last year it received 2,000 turkeys.
"The need is greater and everyone wants to try to do something special for the holiday season," Ash said.
The organization provides turkeys to social service agencies such as St. Anthony's, Walden House and St. Vincent de Paul, and overall will distribute about 1 million pounds of food this Thanksgiving.
Some 26 percent of the combined population of San Francisco and Marin is considered low-income under federal guidelines, according to the Food Bank, and that means a lot of people can't afford a holiday meal.
Last Thanksgiving, the line to get into St. Anthony's Dining Room in the Tenderloin wrapped around the block as thousands waited in light drizzle for a hot meal and warm company.
"Our numbers always go up during the holidays," said Karl Robillard, a spokesman for St. Anthony's. "It's such a tough time of year for so many people, especially if you're isolated or don't have a family. It's a challenging time. People need support not just through meals, but emotionally."
Robillard said St. Anthony's relies on the Food Bank for 50 percent of its food year-round. That level of help is threatened, however, because the Food Bank didn't receive about $161,000 in expected federal funding this year - an amount that could have paid for 483,000 meals.
"If (the Food Bank is) experiencing cuts or a lack of food coming into their program, everybody is affected," Robillard said. "That's when we really look toward individual donors, when these needs are not being met by the government or federal aid.
"People who can, we really ask them to step up and do what they can do," he added.
Volunteers will be accepting turkey and donations Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the San Francisco Food Bank warehouse at 900 Pennsylvania Ave. and from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Marin Food Bank warehouse at 75 Digital Dr., Novato.
The Food Bank will also be accepting monetary donations online at: www.sffoodbank.org.