By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Salmon giveaway helps feed people
Bennie Gatto and Gill Asencion hand out free salmon to Lathrop residents Tuesday morning at the Lathrop Senior Center. - photo by JASON CAMPBELL

LATHROP – David Adams showed up at the Lathrop Senior Center Tuesday morning to get his bi-monthly bag of groceries.

It wasn’t until he was standing in line that he found out he’d be going home with a massive salmon he could fry, grill or bake to his liking – adding a little something different to put his diet that’s both healthy and delicious.

It’s not everyday, he said, that you get something added that you wouldn’t normally be able to buy in the store.

“When I walked out to my car to my bag in I saw the other line and they told me what it was for,” Adams said. “I think that it’s a really great idea. It really helps out people that are on tight budgets – I wouldn’t be buying this in the store for eight or 10 or 12 dollars a pound.

“It’s something nice that everybody gets to enjoy and I think that it’s great that they’re doing this.”

Vice Mayor Christopher Mateo – who traded the suit he wore at Monday’s council meeting for a pair of jeans and a baseball cap – watched with a smile on his face as volunteers Gill Asencion and Bennie Gatto handed out the monstrous salmon to the seniors waiting in line.

It was Mateo that contacted the Department of Fish and Game to inquire about obtaining the salmon after they had been harvested. He wanted to use the meat to feed families rather than discard it or put it back into the river to sustain a natural ecosystem. He was thrilled to be able to see something that could have been considered far-fetched become a reality for Lathrop residents.

“When I got elected to the council I knew that there were things we could do to help the residents – especially with the natural harvest that we have here in the San Joaquin Valley,” Mateo said. “This is an example of that that helps provide something extra to people who might not have sufficient food.

“It’s kind of like a Thanksgiving meal where you get to enjoy nature’s bounty and the spirit of community at the same time.”

Not even the brisk morning air was going to keep Ed Gardner from going home without his fish.

As one of the initial 150 residents that were given a ticket Tuesday morning, Gardner stood in line and waited patiently for Lathrop Mayor Joseph “Chaka” Santos to arrive with the truck full of fish. Knowing he was getting something that he considered a “treat” helped the tone for his entire day.

“I think that this is really a lifesaver for people and seniors that are living on fixed incomes,” he said. “I never buy fish – it’s just too expensive and I have to pass it up all of the time. But today I don’t have to and neither do the other people who are here, and that’s a great thing.”