Turkey for the Less Fortunate
When you’re struggling to put food on the table on a regular day, Thanksgiving can seem like a daunting task. Where will we find the money for a turkey?
In Canyon Lake, the Community Resource & Recreation Center (CRRC) helps to ensure a nice spread for those who can’t afford it.
“We generally aim at having enough turkeys and holiday food items for about 240 families,” said Maureen Schein, resource program director. “We’ll feed close to 700 people in November.”
More than 200 of everything
Those historical numbers have held true for the last 13 years at CRRC. So, Schein makes sure there’s more than 200 of everything you want for the table. Volunteers load stuffing, corn, green beans, French fried onions, canned sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, canned pumpkin and pie crusts into reusable bags. They add a frozen pie and, for families of three or more, a turkey.
“I save turkeys all year long,” Schein said. “Often, in an order of miscellaneous poultry from the San Antonio Food Bank, we’ll wind up with three or four turkeys. Sometimes, we find them on their shopping list for 15 cents a pound. That’s when I really stock up.”
Where does she keep 200 turkeys? In a 12×10 walk-in freezer, sponsored by the GVTC Foundation six years ago. “That’s right,” she said. “They go to the back of the freezer, and we just try to forget about them!”
Canned sweet potatoes
The other items can usually be purchased throughout the year, but this year, the food pantry had a problem. SAFB hadn’t had any canned sweet potatoes or yams. The workers had put away any cans of holiday food that did come in, and had added them to the stock they already had. But the canned sweet potatoes just weren’t adding up.
“I was going to have to go spend a lot of my budget on sweet potatoes,” Schein said. “So, I decided to first let our community know about the need.” On Facebook, and Twitter, and via email, and by putting requests in church bulletins, she let people know what they could do to help the food pantry meet needs. The CLHS Leo Club and the MVMS Student Council held food drives that also brought in a good stash of sweet potatoes.
The feeling of gratitude
“The week before Thanksgiving, I counted the sweet potatoes,” she said, and was delighted to find the community had met the need, and more! “I can’t explain the feeling of gratitude that I had!”
But, she pointed out, the community doesn’t just help with food. Last week, a family was facing disconnect from PEC for a large bill. It took more than CRRC’s normal assistance to cover, and she sought outside help. “I found enough agencies and churches to help,” she said, “But when I was telling the story to my neighbors that night, they offered to help! That’s just the kind of community we live in, and I love the fact I’m always reminded of that fact.”
CRRC is a partner agency of the SAFB, and orders food on a weekly basis. Frozen meat, canned goods and regular staples are always available. Often, produce can be purchased as well.
The SAFB and its partners benefit from some big corporate hearts as well. One week the food truck driver said he was heading over to Nabisco, in Schertz, to pick up 100 pallets of donated product. The next day, I saw 178,000 pounds of snacks available to order, for free! So, we have lots of crackers, cookies, bars, and fruit snacks.