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Chili cook-off on Saturday benefits food bank effort
Chili--Update Pic 1
Second Harvest Food Bank Chief Executive Officer Mike Mallory and upcoming Chili Cook-Off organizer Mary Genone show off some of the items available for winning through an auction including a Willie Mays and Willie McCovey autographed picture plus a pair of Foster Farms “Plumpers.” The first annual Chili Cook-Off is scheduled to take place at the Manteca Senior Center on Saturday, Aug. 29. Entries will be still be accepted through Thursday, and those who wish to just sample the tasty treats on Saturday can do so for only $5. - photo by JASON CAMPBELL


• 350,000: The number of individuals the Second Harvest Food Bank helps in a seven-county region in a year.
• 226: The number of non-profits that rely on Second Harvest to secure food for the needy they serve.
• $25: The size of a donation that will allow the food bank to secure $180 worth of food for families in need.
• 25%: The increase in need from 2008
• 2,700: The number of seniors who get between 15 and 18 pounds of supplemental groceries per month.
• 2,800: The number of children who receive up to 18 pounds of supplemental groceries twice a month to help feed their families providing they complete eight hours of tutoring and recreational activities each week.
• 7,000,000: The number of pounds of food distributed during 2008.

What started as a grassroots campaign to raise money for the Second Harvest Food Bank has quickly grown into a massive community event.

As organizers put the finishing touches on the organization’s first annual Chili Cook-Off – scheduled to attract hundreds to the Manteca Senior Center on Saturday, Aug. 29 –  they got news that PG&E plans on matching every dollar raised through ticket sales for the inaugural event.

The combination of the community support has constantly grown ever since the cook-off idea was first announced by a team of volunteers from Del Webb Woodbridge. The group is the food bank’s first ever community volunteer force that have been making huge inroads in backlogged work that the short-staffed non-profit has struggled to address due to a small staff and an increasing number of donations.

There are already more than 25 entrants in the chili cook-off..

 “We just recently learned that PG&E will be matching all of the ticket sales for the event, and that’s a great boost to something we’re already expecting to be big,” said Second Harvest Chief Executive Officer Mike Mallory. “We’re fortunate to have a community like Manteca that is willing to go out of their way to make something like this – our first attempt at something we’re hoping to make an annual event – a success right off the bat.”

Word for the Chili Cook-Off first surfaced when Second Harvest staffers held a special “thank you” dinner for the dozens of Del Webb Woodbridge volunteers that have helped tackle the minute tasks that would often backlog the day-to-day operations of one of the biggest food distribution centers in both San Joaquin and Stanislaus Counties.

Whether it was tagging unlabeled cans – something that would take the small staff at Second Harvest weeks to complete – or helping to organize the warehouse that stores all of the food to be distributed, the group of volunteers managed to cut the normal turnout time into a fraction of what it would take staffers to accomplish.

Mallory is hoping for a large community turnout for the event this Saturday at the Manteca Senior Center, 296 Cherry Lane, to taste the multiple entries that include batches prepared by local firefighters as well as residents.

“We’ve gotten a lot of interest about this event, and we’re looking forward to seeing the turnout this weekend,” Mallory said. “To see this become such a big event in such a short amount of time is a testament to the volunteers that we have and their dedication in making this what it is.”

The $5 tasting tickets will be available at the door at the Senior Center on Saturday. A no-host bar begins at 5 p.m. with tasting to follow at 6 p.m. Prizes awarded for the best chili include cash prizes up to $300.

For more information visit the organization’s website at