For the past 25 years, United Samaritans Foundation has served as a beacon of hope throughout Stanislaus County, delivering food and services to provide a better quality of life for the area’s less fortunate. The organization is inviting the community to an open house this week that will not only give visitors an up-close look at the facility, but also celebrate the non-profit’s storied history.
Based in Turlock, USF is the county’s largest non-profit direct food distributor to the hungry, serving 35,000 meals a month. To accomplish this feat, USF makes 50 stops throughout 11 different communities — including Stanislaus State and Modesto Junior College — with four mobile lunch trucks, serving between 1,500 and 1,800 lunches Monday through Friday.
Of those who depend on USF, it was reported in 2017 that 64 percent come for meals four to five times a week. For 38 percent, USF was their only access to fresh fruit and vegetables. For 31 percent, the USF lunch was their only meal. More than a third of the participants in the program are children, 13 percent are homeless, 12 percent are seniors and 12 percent are disabled.
“Hunger never takes a day off, and our mission has never been more important to those we serve,” USF President John Rogers said.
USF’s mission is to “deliver food to people in need in Stanislaus County and to facilitate the provision of services to assist them in a transition to a better quality of life.”
In addition to the nutritious lunch program, USF offers clothing and support services to the needy. In 2016, more than 52,300 articles of clothing were given to nearly 6,200 people, while more than 500 people were able to access essential services like showers, laundry, designated mailing addresses, phones and referrals.
The non-profit got its start in 1994, and in early 1995, USF’s volunteers began delivering meals to low-income residents and homeless of southern Stanislaus County, supplementing the local “Daily Bread Ministry” that had been launched three years previously at Turlock’s Sacred Heart Church.
In January 1996 USF leased to buildings in Turlock, renovated the kitchen and moved to the Turlock truck site. An emergency food pantry and clothes closet were soon added, and a new warehouse was constructed in 1997. Also in 1997, USF purchased two half-block sections in Hughson, where construction of a new complex was completed in 1998.
A second warehouse, new office and kitchen facilities were built in Turlock in 2002 to help accommodate the growing needs of low-income residents and the homeless in the area. USF will welcome the community to the 220 S. Broadway location from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Nov. 1 for an Open House event featuring tours, beverages and cookies in celebration of the organization’s 25th Anniversary.