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Second Harvest Food Bank Gears Up for Thanksgiving

The San Carlos-based food bank serving San Mateo and Santa Clara counties is still in need of donations as it prepares for its busiest time of year.

As Thanksgiving approaches, the is preparing for its busiest time of year.

Michelle Berg, the bank’s community relations coordinator, walked through the spacious warehouse Monday where bags of food, crates of boxed goods, carts of canned fruits and shelves of healthy proteins have been gathered this holiday season to provide for nearly 300,000 people the organization will help feed; 50,000 of which will be specific to this season.

“There is something about the Thanksgiving holiday that sees more donations and more need,” Berg said. “But hunger and need is a year-round issue.”

Any family of four making under $44,000 a year is eligible to receive food. Berg said individuals must make less than $1,800 per month to qualify.

Berg said frozen turkeys, meats in a can, tuna, peanut butter, low-sugar cereals, 100 percent fruit juice, canned fruits and vegetables and cans with pop-top lids are among the most sought after and needed foods at the moment.

For those looking for a hot meal on Thanksgiving, Berg recommended the in Menlo Park which will be serving hot Thanksgiving meals on Nov. 24 at 2 p.m. Residents residing toward the southern tip of the Peninsula could also look to the Redwood City Cogic on Nov. 19 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. for a hot meal.

Families residing further north should stop in South San Francisco, where the North County Homeless Conference and the are offering hot holiday meals on Nov. 23 at 10 a.m. and Nov. 19 at 10:30 a.m.

Mid-Peninsula dwellers should head to San Mateo’s SVDP San Mateo Area Conference on Nov. 23 at 9:45 a.m., or the on Nov. 24 at 1 p.m.

The Second Harvest Food Bank – located on Bing Street off a nondescript stretch of Old County Road in San Carlos  - sees the holiday season more than double the demand for food, the result of which is 1,000 individual drives; more than half of the total number of drives throughout the year. The bank provided more than 35 million meals to the communities of San Mateo and Santa Clara counties last year.

The entrance to the bank’s lobby has an ongoing electronic tally chart counting the number of turkey’s they’ve accumulated. So far, the number stands at 6,697; still 4,803 shy of their lofty goal.

“It’s hard to get a good deal on turkeys,” said Berg, who added that food banks can normally stretch a dollar further than an individual due to bulk buying. Turkeys remain elusive. Buying in bulk is rarely an option, so the bank is always in great need of turkeys around the holidays. 

People interested in donating money or food can do so at www.SHFB.org.

Donors can stop by the food bank Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., and on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. They can also drop off food and goods at any Safeway or Whole Foods, where Second Harvest bins are set-up.

Berg urged those families looking to snag a coveted frozen turkey to act quickly, as the turkeys have already begun to be distributed. Berg said those in need of frozen and boxed food should call 1.800.984.3663. Operators speak English, Spanish, and Vietnamese, and will direct callers to their nearest active food bank, church, school or food bank participant.

"I think there’s something about the holidays that inspires people to give,” Berg said. “Nobody wants to see anyone go without a Thanksgiving meal, and we’re happy to be a part of it.”

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