The Emergency Food Bank and Family Services of San Joaquin County got an unexpected turnout for their annual Thanksgiving Basket giveaway.
“In previous years we’ve topped 2,000 people,” Executive Director Rebeca Knodt said. “This is about 4,000 right now.”
Those who showed up received a frozen turkey, fruits, vegetables, bread, and some extras like children’s books. Everything was free, which explains the number of people and the long wait time.
Stockton resident Herman Campbell arrived at 6:00am and got through the line just after 9 a.m.
Fellow resident Carlos Gutierrez and his wife, Emily, waited about three or four hours as well.
“It was worth it if you want to feed your family,” he said.
However, Knodt said some people had been waiting much longer than that.
“They were camping out since 10 o’clock in the morning yesterday until today in the freezing weather,” Knodt said.
While the line was longer than Knodt had ever seen what was interesting is that most of the people who were waiting to pick up their food have jobs.
“This is working poor,” she said. “They’re working but they’re not making enough. So they have to supplement. 77 percent of the people that we serve are working poor or are seniors that are receiving social security, but it’s not enough.”
For the people who are standing in line the food means a lot.
“Grateful,” said Campbell, “I can eat my kid can eat.”
“God is good and we’re going to have a good Thanksgiving,” said Gutierrez.
These two were lucky, because they already got their baskets. Those at the end of the line may be in for disappointment.
“I’m concerned we’re going run out of turkeys,” Knodt cautioned.
Even if the turkeys are gone, the food bank will turn to their stash of Christmas hams and give those out.
Knodt just hopes they’ll be able to replenish the supply, “The need doesn’t stop on the day of Thanksgiving. It continues.”
If you would like to donate the Emergency Food Bank and Family Services of San Joaquin County is located at 7 W. Scotts Ave., Stockton and can be reached by calling (209) 464-7369.