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Local food programs in need of donations

Local food programs in need of donations

United Samaritans Foundation employees work to make sure meals are prepared in time for Daily Bread Truck rounds. Starting this month, the United Samaritans will be providing an extra bag of food ...

POSTED July 20, 2012 6:50 p.m.

The summertime blues for local food pantries is heating up with donations down at Turlock community centers — a phenomenon food program coordinators see every year.

In 2011, the Turlock Salvation Army saw its monthly food donations go from 14,350 pounds a month at the beginning of the year to 11,052 pounds in the summer season. The average donation total for each month is about 20,000 pounds. This same drop in donations is being felt this summer also.

“People have been gracious to the Salvation Army in donating foods,” said Major Debi Shrum of the Turlock Salvation Army.  “Although business and community members know our needs, we have received smaller donations this summer.”

Donations from grocery stores, dairies and bakeries continue, but personal donations lag in the summer months, said Shrum.

“We understand that the economy is suffering a great turmoil.  Businesses are being more careful with what they donate,” said Shrum.

On average, the Salvation Army feeds 20 families of four per day, and at present, shelves are looking a bit empty.

“We give a family of four enough food for four days, and if you’re averaging 20 a day and donations are down, you can see how the shelves are getting bare,” added Shrum.

The Salvation Army isn’t alone. At the United Samaritans Foundation in Turlock, donations are down and the need is up.

United Samaritans is employing strategies to increase funds, such as not filling vacant staff positions, reaching out to local businesses and simply asking more people for help. The challenge to get donors in this economy, especially in the summer, can be daunting.

“Our number of services has increased this summer since the kids are out of school,” said Maris Sturtevant, chief operating manager of United Samaritans. 

United Samaritans, Salvation Army and other local organizations share whatever donations do come in — especially perishable items.

“Although there is a decrease in donations with money, during the summer we see an increase in vegetables and produce,” added Sturtevant.

Despite scarcity in donations, United Samaritans continues to find means in helping out families in need.

“Starting the month of July, we will be providing an extra bag of food along with lunch four our Daily Bread Truck.  The grocery bag will contain eggs and some kind of vegetable.  Since we don’t serve on the weekends, we know that people need to eat.  We are trying to help families who need to feed their children.  We hope that we keep this program running all year,” said Sturtevant. 

To donate to the food programs at United Samaritans Foundation, call 668-4853 or visit

To donate to the food program at the Turlock Salvation Army, call 667-6091.

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