Demand for food high this Thanksgiving at San Mateo nonprofit

SAN MATEO, Calif. (KGO) -- Samaritan House in San Mateo started giving out food for the Thanksgiving holiday meal this week, and says the need is enormous. Workers are expecting to help twice as many people this year than they did before the pandemic.

"The economy is deceptive. If you are at the top and have a nice portfolio, you are doing well. The bottom of the economy, getting enough safe work at a rate that affords you the ability to live here, that's a completely different story," said Bart Charlow, the CEO for Samaritan House.

Workers at Samaritan House say these are people who got behind during the shutdown and haven't caught up yet, or they work in the service industry and their employer went under, or they need help now that some of the government assistance programs have ended.

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"It's a lot harder out there than people imagine and inflation kicked in! So, when we are looking at food like this....boy, that is expensive now," Charlow said, referring to the turkey and Thanksgiving fixings.

"I am a health care worker. I don't make a lot of money. I have bills to pay," said Lisa Trevigne of San Mateo as she picked up supplies for her Thanksgiving meal. She plans to host neighbors for the holiday.

"I live in a building where there are a lot of old people in the building. They can't get out as much, I like to help them as well," she said.

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The good news is Samaritan House is not worried about running out of food.

"We are doing well in donations. We have good support from Second Harvest Food Bank and all the grocery stores you probably shop at. Individual service groups all bring us turkeys," Charlow said.

Samaritan House used to only need to set aside two Saturdays for this holiday food distribution. But the need is so high right now, it will take a week to serve all those who have asked for help.

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