By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Just enough so far to purchase 73 turkeys
Second Harvest Food Bank staff members Paul Rodrigues, left, and Merl Fletcher hold up some mac and cheese along with ham inside the Second Harvest Food Bank warehouse in Manteca. A shortage pf turkeys means struggling families depending upon food closets may receive mac and cheese along with hot dogs and Jell-O for Thanksgiving and if they are lucky cooked ham might be available depending upon stores having excess stock to donate. - photo by HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin

The prospects are growing that a large number of struggling families in Manteca, Lathrop, and Ripon may celebrate Thanksgiving this year with a dinner of Spam, macaroni and cheese, and Jell-O.

With 30 days left to Thanksgiving, the 17th annual Turkeys R Us Drive has just $1,470 or enough to purchase 73 turkeys. Food closets serving the three communities need 3,200 turkeys for the main course for Thanksgiving and Christmas for 1,600 families. The effort needs either 1,527 more turkeys or more than $30,000 in cash to purchase just turkeys for Thanksgiving at $20 a pop.

Those 73 turkeys might not even make it to food closets. That’s because the first 200 turkeys go to the the Manteca Rotary Club’s free Thanksgiving Day dinner that provides a free hot holiday meal for  over 1,000 individuals either who are homeless, alone, or do not have cooking facilities. The dinner is staged in conjunction with Sunrise Kiwanis, the Manteca Police Officers Association, Manteca Unified School District and Interact youth service club. The cooked dinners are also delivered to Lathrop and Ripon.

Last year, the Thanksgiving dinner effort literally went down to the last piece of meat. In a prior year when the demand was greater than available food, Jeff Liotard — who along with his wife Tevani opened up their Mt. Mike’s Pizza restaurant for the community meal — covered the gap with pizza

Second Harvest Food Bank CEO Mike Mallory said if they can’t supply a traditional Thanksgiving dinner they will make sure the 30 food closets serving the South County communities will have food for  struggling families to have a meal on Thanksgiving.

That more than likely means hot dogs or Spam, mac and cheese, perhaps some canned vegetables and maybe Jell-O for dessert. They do get some cooked ham periodically but not in sufficient quantities that would come close to meeting the need.

Mallory noted Turkeys R Us actually has just 23 days to raise $32,000 for the Thanksgiving portion as the food has to be distributed to the 30 food closets that work with those in need at various locations in Manteca, Lathrop, Ripon, and the South County.

Typical turkeys cost $20 a pop. It will cost $64,000 just securing turkeys for 1,600 struggling families — once for Thanksgiving and again for Christmas.

Mallory is hoping he will be able to negotiate a better price for turkeys but as it stands now they will need $20 per family in needed for Thanksgiving and then again at Christmas

The Second Harvest Food Bank in working with Turkeys R Us will encourage corporate sources to match the community’s generosity with all of the fixings typically needed for a holiday meal from vegetables, stuffing, and bread to possibly even pumpkin pies.

The holiday meal, which could easily cost $80, is something that many working families struggling with reduced income, medical expenses, or other setbacks can’t afford. Then there are single moms and others on limited income.

 Turkeys R Us volunteer community coordinator LeAnn McNabb will pick up checks if she is contacted at her cell at 815-6751.

If you can assist Turkeys R Us, contact the Second Harvest Food Bank at 239-2091.

Second Harvest will accept frozen turkeys or hams from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday at the 704 E. Industrial Park Drive location in Manteca.