Holiday ham giveaway in Oakland exposes harsh effects of coronavirus pandemic

The church gave away 2,000 hams in an Easter food drive, but say the need goes beyond the holiday weekend.
OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- The Alameda County Food Bank added hams to its grocery distribution Friday thanks to a donation from Hormel Foods, to help those in need with their holiday meal.

"We are in our 33rd year of doing this, and at this event today we are giving more than 2,000 hams for this event," said Gerald Meux, Customer Business Manager at Hormel Foods.

Recipients did not have to get out of their cars. The operation was a drive-through in the parking lot of Acts Full Gospel Church in Oakland.

The Food Bank started the food giveaways at the beginning of the pandemic, and they're still going.

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Ten days before Christmas and Turquoise LeJeune Parker, a Lakewood Elementary School teacher, just pulled off her biggest foodraiser yet for her neediest students: $106,000.

"We do this drive through distribution three days a week, Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Usually we get 1,000 or so cars representing 5,000 individuals. Looking around today at the cars lined up, it's extra busy for a Friday. Word got out that there is a special distribution. We are distributing nice large bone in-hams in advance of Easter," said Food Bank Spokesperson Michael Altfest.

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"The intent when we set up our first drive through giveaway was that it would be temporary. What temporary meant at the time, we didn't know. But if history is any indication, we realize that such a severe emergency like this and a recession could take up to a decade to recover from."

Altfest said food is often where people will make cuts when times are tough. He says the generosity of the Bay Area allows the food bank to keep offering this help, but the hope is that they soon will be able to tear down the operation for good.

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