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Turkeys roll into Manteca
Includes 1,300 birds for Ripon, Lathrop, Manteca households
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Cases and cases of frozen 20-pound turkeys were stacked up outside the Second Harvest Food Bank warehouse in Manteca’s industrial park on Industrial Park Drive Wednesday morning awaiting transfer to a cold storage unit. - photo by GLENN KAHL
Turkeys – lots of turkeys – headed for Thanksgiving tables were delivered to the Second Harvest Food Bank warehouse in Manteca’s Industrial Park Wednesday morning by a Foster Farms’ 18-wheeler.

A total of 1,500 hundred frozen turkeys were off loaded from a semi-trailer by food bank staffers using forklifts to place the cases of holiday birds alongside the facility that is the nucleus in support of needy families for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Of those, 1,300 were acquired using funds collected from Turkeys R Us to distribute Thanksgiving week to struggling families in Manteca, Ripon, and Lathrop. The rest of the turkeys are going elsewhere in San Joaquin and Stanislaus counties.

Foster Farms spokesman Ira Brill was in Manteca to see the turkeys unloaded and was enthusiastically welcomed by food bank director Mike Mallory who supervised the unloading of the box- after-box of turkeys.  

Brill said his firm sees the total need in the valley for about 4,500 turkeys hoping their delivery of 1,500 birds will help put more food on the tables of the needy next week.

“We are just really happy to do our part,” he said.  They donated turkeys to the food bank last year as well, saying they had to give a little bit less this year, adding they always try to give as much as they possibly can.

Brill said Foster Farms doesn’t look at their donation as how much the turkeys are worth, but rather as filling a “real need” in the communities.

“I think if you look at Thanksgiving as a holiday – it’s a time when the families gather around the table.  I think the way the company looked at it is, if we can provide a turkey that will cause those people to do that (to gather around their table) if they didn’t otherwise have the opportunity – that’s the best thing to do.   I don’t think you can put a price on that,” the Foster Farm’s marketing director said.

Asked about his firm’s tutoring program, he said, some 500 kids are being helped in the school program.  In the valley, in Stanislaus County and in Merced the students go to school an extra eight hours a week – four hours academic and four hours in service work.  The tutoring is done during supervised instruction at their own schools.

Twice a month they get 18 to 20 pounds of groceries for their participation in helping other students.   “To me it’s a very, very exciting program, because I think there are so many negative messages that kids get today.  And the great thing about this program is that it is really telling kids if they put a little bit more in for others they will  get a little bit more back,” he explained.

He added that is a “great life’s lesson” that we are able to teach them,  further noting that these tutoring programs in the past have shown that scores go up – “ a great win-win thing” for everybody.

Brill noted that Foster Farms is looking for new partners to help expand the tutoring program out into other communities.  

“It’s amazing – I’ve actually gone out and talked to the kids and they get so excited.  I think today we live in a country where there is no limit to what somebody can do if they are on the right path, and sometimes get a little bit of help,” he said.

He said in talking to the students he has found them to be open in telling him what they want to do in life from being a monster truck driver to the heights of an astronaut.  “You can just see their aspirations,” he said.

Some of these students are “at risk kids,” he pointed out.   “If we can do something to help – not only in the short term – but also in the long run, I think we are helping to build a better community,” he stressed.