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Westside Ministries to hold 'Fancy' food giveaway
fancy food giveaway
Several Westside Ministries volunteers unpack and box food that was donated from the International Fancy Food Show in San Francisco in 2016. Westside Ministries will hold another Fancy Food giveaway on Sunday. - photo by Journal file photo

Some of the hottest names in the food industry are gathered in San Francisco this week for the Winter Fancy Food Show, and while there may be wonderful dishes prepared on the grill, the real magic happens behind the scenes after the event. The show donates a majority, if not all, of its leftover food to Westside Ministries of Turlock, giving the organization the opportunity to give away food baskets to those in need throughout the community.

The Westside Ministries crew made their way to the Bay Area Tuesday morning, said Communications Director Sunshine Sakuda, and arrived at the food show just as the convention died down. There, the crew helps clean up and pack away any leftovers from the variety of vendors and tastemakers present at the event, which includes items like meats, cheeses, sweets, oils and vinegars. These items are then transported back to Turlock by way of a donated truck, where they are sorted into food baskets to be distributed to the city’s needy.

“The Fancy Food Show is really fancy,” said Sakuda. “Last year we got things like caviar and aged cheese – a lot of cool food that sometimes we don’t even know what it is.”

Last year was the first year that Westside Ministries collaborated with the Fancy Food Show, and thanks to the event’s generous donation, the organization was able to collect hundreds of pounds of food, feeding 2,500 people. Sakuda expects around the same amount of food to be collected this year for the organization's Food Giveaway event.

“That’s why we’re here, to help reach out to the children of the westside,” said Sakuda. “If we have all this food and we’re able to give it away, then we’re more than happy to help out the community in that way.”

To prepare for the Food Giveaway, Westside Ministries employees and volunteers first sort the food into perishable items and nonperishable items, then into groups of snack, breakfast, lunch and dinner items. The food is next placed into individual boxes to give away to those in need.

“We’ve been prepping for the past two weeks, going to local grocery stores and getting banana boxes for packing the food into,” said Sakuda. “We divide it into boxes so that each box has the same amount and same types of food.”

Those who are interested in volunteering to help put together food boxes may contact Westside Ministries at 209-667-8593 or via their website,

The Food Giveaway is scheduled for Sunday at Westside Ministries, 950 Columbia St. Those interested in receiving a food basket have until Thursday to preregister, said Sakuda, which is recommended in order to make the process faster. Visit Westside Ministries with identification and proof of the number of residents in your household, if possible, to register. Registration may also be done on the day of the Food Giveaway, and there are four distribution times: 9 a.m., 10 a.m., 11 a.m. and noon.

“It’s just awesome that we’re able to be in contact with this many people and get to know the community,” said Sakuda. “It lets people know who we are and what we’re about.”