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Donations at food closets down, need increasing
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Dozens of hungry people line up for free lunch from the United Samaritans Daily Bread truck at Sunnyview Park on Friday. More people are in need of food in the summer, but donations are down. - photo by JONATHAN MCCORKELL / The Journal

Canned Food Drive

The Stanislaus County Fair is having an opening night canned food drive. Bring 2 cans of food and get a $2 off coupon for adult admission. Donations go to the United Samaritans emergency food box program.

To donate United Samaritans, call 668-4853; or for the Salvation Army, call 667-6091.

Major Debi Shrum of the Turlock Salvation Army says it happens every year—when the temperatures go up, food donations go down. It’s called the summertime blues for local food closets and pantries.

At the Salvation Army Corps Community Center in Turlock, food donations for April were 14,350 pounds but for May donations shrunk to 11,052 pounds. The average donation total for each month is about 20,000 pounds.

“It is just the time of year. People always think of giving during the holidays and cold weather, but in the summer people are busy on vacation and out doing things, we just don’t get quite enough to meet the demand,” said Shrum.

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

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.

“We are seeing more people in line for our Daily Bread truck, and in the past few years, donations have gone down,” said Director Barbara Bawanan.

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.

“It’s difficult, but we aren’t serving any less food and we just have to work harder with less people,” said Bawanan.

United Samaritans, Salvation Army and other local organizations share amongst themselves.

“Whenever we get a large quantity of food we will send some over their way and they do the same,” explained Bawanan.

Clients at both providers appreciate the food they do get. Grandmother Aloma Rodriguez often goes to the Daily Bread truck at Sunnyview Park in Turlock with her grandson Josh, 5.

“The food is great and the people who work on the truck are always so nice to us. We are truly blessed we live in a community that is so giving,” said Aloma.

To contact Jonathan McCorkell, e-mail or call 634-9141, ext. 2015.