Food bank gives out Thanksgiving chickens

November 24, 2008 7:44:31 PM PST
Many Bay Area food banks are struggling to meet the increased need at a time when donations are down. Alameda County's food bank has only 150 turkeys to hand out this holiday. Some food pantries are now offering a different type of poultry instead.

There were onions, bread for stuffing, ham and potatoes. Volunteers gave away all the fixings for a traditional Thanksgiving dinner at an Oakland soup kitchen Monday. Only one thing was missing.

"I have not been able to get any turkeys at all this year from the food bank," said meal organizer Lola Hardy.

So the 150 families who lined up outside Grace Baptist Church for the free food, some as early as 5:00 a.m., took home something very untraditional instead -- Thanksgiving chicken.

"Nothing wrong with chickens. It's meat. You can't go wrong with a chicken. You can mess up a turkey, but you can't go wrong with a chicken," said Pastor Charles Hopkins.

Food banks around the Bay Area have seen turkey donations decline this year, but the Alameda County Community Food Bank, which supplies food to soup kitchens like Grace Baptist Church, has been hit especially hard. This thanksgiving, it only has 150 turkeys to give away.

Hardy remembers two years ago when she had so many turkeys she had to stack them on the porch. Now, she only has 20.

"Once we get through with the chickens, I have small hams and then I have breaded chicken and I'm going to start putting that in the bags," said Hardy.

The scarce turkeys were raffled off.

"It's going to be fun. This is just extra," said Lorraine Moore, one of the few lucky winners.

Peter Gallow was first in line, hoping for a turkey. Instead, he walked away with a chicken, and he was thankful for it.

"Chicken, turkey, or ham... anyway it doesn't matter. As long as I've got something to put on the table," said Gallow.

"Whatever they're giving, I'll be happy with it," said Oakland resident Isarel Florence.

With the exception of the shortage of turkeys, the Alameda County Food Bank says so far this year it appears that donations are on par with year's past. But with all the need that is out there, the food bank is still struggling to meet the demand.


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