Local community center to host turkey giveaway

Ocean Merced Ingleside family resource center

YMCA Urban Services volunteers line up for food before serving the rest of the community at the Minni and Lovie Recreation Center auditorium in Ingleside on Nov. 15, 2011. Photo by Jessica Goss.

While some search through the supermarket in pursuit of the perfect Thanksgiving turkey, others have to wait in line hoping to get a semblance of a Thanksgiving meal.

Ocean Merced Ingleside Family Resource Center will be providing 376 turkeys for families who need extra assistance during the holidays.

“Every year we do a turkey giveaway the Tuesday before Thanksgiving,” said pantry coordinator Atrecia Thomas, 24. “The food bank gives us a nice spread of Thanksgiving goods.”

Every Tuesday at Minnie and Lovie Ward Recreation Center in San Francisco, about 300 people wait in line to get free food donated by the San Francisco Food Bank. Community members show proof of residency in the ZIP code 94112, 94116 or 94132, and are assigned a random number that dictates the order in which people can get food.

“Sometimes people at the end get more or less depending on how much food is left over. It goes by the number of people and the shipment,” said Client Services Coordinator Liana Orozco. “It can be one orange per day or 10, depending.”

Sign-ups for the pantry service start at 9 a.m. and the food is provided between 11 a.m. and noon. Any leftovers are offered to those who are willing to wait.

The OMI wants to help those who are consistently in need rather than people who just want a free turkey for Thanksgiving.

“People who show up the day of will not be able to get a turkey unless there are leftovers,” Orozco said. “About 400 plus people come for Thanksgiving. Those who can’t get a turkey get a chicken.”

OMI has been around since August 2003 and is one of the 23 Family Resource Centers in the city, which is a part of the Urban Services of the YMCA. The FRC provides turkeys through fundraising and gets the other food directly from the San Francisco Food Bank. Along with the food distribution pantry, the FRC also offers mental health, mentoring, a truancy intervention program and other family services.

“It’s an eye-opener. Sometimes this is the only food they get for the week,” said pantry coordinator Atrecia Thomas, 24, who chooses what items to order from the food bank. “I try to find stuff that the community wants and needs.”

Cecelia Sylvester, 43, one of 22 volunteers at OMI, said she would not be able to provide a turkey for her family without the help of the pantry.

“I don’t work,” Sylvester said. “I have twin boys and my husband is the one who works.”

Other people rely on the pantry throughout the year.

“I’ve come here for a couple years because I need it,” said Beatrice Evans, 84. “I’m hoping they will give me a turkey. You don’t care what time it is, if it’s Thanksgiving or Christmas.”

Evans receives Social Security, which she said hasn’t aligned with the cost of living like it should.

“We didn’t get no raise for two years for the increase in cost of living,” Evans said. “Everything is higher now. When I come here and get some potatoes or some bread it helps me. Maybe I can save for my medicine.”

Evans said she takes advantage of what she needs.

“I don’t come to places if I don’t need it,” Evans said. “If I was a Rockefeller, I wouldn’t be in line. I’d be helping people in line.”

The turkeys will be transported from Costco to OMI Tuesday, Nov. 22.

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