Thousands head to Sacramento food bank for turkey and trimmings

Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services handed out turkeys and other Thanksgiving items to 6,875 people Monday morning.
Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services handed out turkeys and other Thanksgiving items to 6,875 people Monday morning. hamezcua@sacbee.com

Thousands of people needing help with Thanksgiving dinner lined up Monday morning for a free turkey and the trimmings from Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services.

Dragging small shopping carts and bundled against the cold, people got to the food bank early as lines wrapped around corners in Oak Park.

Along with a turkey in a reusable tote bag, those in line got items such as cranberry sauce, vegetables, stuffing mix, gravy and yams, said Kelly Siefkin, a food bank spokeswoman. She said the turkey distribution has grown significantly over the past few years.

“We have refined and polished the process,” she said. “It is very dignified. Our goal is to serve as many people as possible.”

The turkeys were accumulated Friday when kindhearted Sacramento-area residents brought about 9,000 of the big birds to the food bank.

The food bank handed out turkeys and other Thanksgiving items to 6,875 people and finished distribution just before 2 p.m., Siefkin said. The group is giving the remaining turkeys to smaller food banks and other charitable partners, such as senior housing complexes whose residents face challenges picking up items in person.

Edward Gordon, 56, walked and took light rail all the way from Rio Linda the night before to take his spot as sixth in line Monday morning.

Gordon, who said he collects cans to supplement a small government check, sleeps outside or, when it is cold or rainy, in a friend’s garage.

He picked up his turkey and fixings to bring to the friend, a buddy who also has a shortage of money. Together, they will have Thanksgiving courtesy of the food bank.

“It is very hard for people like myself and others in line,” he said. “I don’t have enough to pay the rent, and the food is difficult to afford. I thank people who are giving us this food. I do this to help myself and to help those who help me.”

Sacramento County residents in need of a Thanksgiving meal were enthusiastically welcomed to the food bank’s one-day distribution.

Alana Matthews, a 16-year-old junior at Sacramento Charter High School, volunteered at the turkey giveaway with other classmates.

“It just feels good to give back,” she said.

Pacific Gas and Electric Co. provided about 100 of the 250 volunteers, Siefkin said. PG&E call-center employee Carmen Quiroz worked at the distribution for the fourth time on Monday.

“When I was growing up, my family didn’t have a whole lot,” she said. “Now, it is me giving back. This is what I do.”

Benita Thomas, who starts a new job soon with a school district, was number 444 in line. She said the food bank has the turkey giveaway organized so that the line moves quickly.

“They know what they are doing,” she said. “I’m going back to work soon, but I need a little help with the food. It helps out. Jobs are out there. You have got to get out there and work for it. You have to be serious about finding a job.”

Call The Bee’s Bill Lindelof, (916) 321-1079.