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Brown Bag helps provide food to struggling seniors
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Gary Moeller adds to a long line of the Brown Bags waiting for seniors. - photo by GLENN KAHL

It’s definite teamwork in the “Brown Bag” food program for Manteca senior citizens that turns out 125 bags for area residents over 60 years old and with limited income twice a month.

Tuesday morning some 14 volunteers gathered, as they do every two weeks, to load bags of groceries in brown bags for the senior citizens who line up at the rear door of the Manteca Senior Center.

Some arrive half an hour early to be first in line for the distribution.

The Second Harvest Food Bank truck backed up to the facility at about 9 a.m. and unloaded cases of fruits, vegetables, yogurt, milk and beans.  “Junior” Paul Gonzales and Robert Casanova used dollies to unload the cases of foodstuffs.

The menu for the day going into the bags included three pounds of potatoes, four pounds of oranges, three pounds of pears, one brick of cheese, one pack of yogurt, three vanilla milk cartons, one Blue Dip, potato chips, Planters Energy Mix peanut butter and a bag of beans.

Second Harvest Food Bank Director Mike Mallory said that while the residents are being asked to donate $12 a year, it amounts to about 50 cents per bag for a value of close to $50.  Mallory had invited Les Reile to join him in overseeing the crew separate and load the bags.  Reile, who donated thousands of dollars to area food banks during the holidays, rolled into the room in his powered wheel chair.

Near the end of the distribution phase Reile said the crew needed to eat lunch and called in an order for three varieties of pizza.  Also on hand to help the volunteers was Manteca Fire Chief Kirk Waters who quickly caught on to the system and was invited back in two weeks.  Reile, too, made quick friendships and said he would return for the next Brown Bag effort.

Senior Center director Brandy Clark noted that some of the team members were volunteers from Manteca CAPS – two coming from as far as Stockton by bus.  She said they do a wonderful job for Brown Bags and throughout the center, always wanting to be of help.

Two of those volunteers were credited with their continuing support for the senior center including John Flores and Ritchie Parker.  They are always here for us, she added.

The Senior Brown Bag Program was launched at the Senior Center in 1978.