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Food insecurity grows in Stanislaus, San Joaquin counties amid coronavirus pandemic

1 in 8 Californians don't know where their next meal will come from, and San Joaquin, Stanislaus counties see a growing need.

STOCKTON, Calif. — Determined to get her Thanksgiving turkey, Sandy Fibrow first had to deal with an unreliable car.

"Since dark-thirty, I was out there, and I left my lights on and it killed my car," Fibrow said.

Unemployed, Sandy Fibrow waited hours but finally got moving. It paid off for her family of five.

"It's a turkey, and we could really use it," she said.

Cars lined up as early as 5 a.m. for the free Thanksgiving Turkey Giveaway by the Stockton Emergency Food Bank.

2,700 turkeys, which is 500 more than last year, were given away at the San Joaquin County Fairgrounds.

It was held there for the first time in the food bank's 52 year history due to logistic reasons.

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"It's not just a low income or a very low income situation. It's people who are unemployed,"  said Stockton Emergency Food Bank CEO Leonard Hansen. 

Jimmy Rivera was at the nearby flea market, but he learned about the giveaway and came to grab a turkey with his grandson.

"I'm on social security, disability and I only have so much to work with," said Rivera.

There were dozens of volunteers, and Rachel Silberstein of Americorps was one of them.

"I really love having the chance to make an impact on others' lives and helping any way that I can," Silberstein said.

Food Insecurity is a growing problem, especially during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the California Association of Food Banks, about one in eight Californians don't know where their next meal will come from.

The need is not only great in San Joaquin County, but according to Salvation Army Modesto, the need is triple in Stanislaus County.

Even though the pandemic shut down the annual Modesto Salvation Army Thanksgiving dinner for 1,000 people, cars have been lining up each day to get their "to go" holiday dinners at the non-profit's warehouse at 600 Janopaul Lane.

Monday through Thursday from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., people line up for food boxes.

Chantal Sanches was there for her family of five. It was her first time having to come for food hoping to make ends meet.

"I'm still working thank God, but only part-time. But you know it takes a big toll on the family," Sanches said.

"Normally we would have about 50 to 60 people a day - or families each day. Now, we're seeing upwards of 150. On Thursday, the first day we were having the turkeys, we saw 250 families," said Maggie Laubach of the Modesto Salvation Army.

The Salvation Army is in great need of donations to purchase more food.

For more information, go to their website: Modestocitadel.salvationarmy.org.

The Stockton Emergency Food Bank is short on stuffing for Thanksgiving and are also in need of donations to purchase more food. You can go to Stocktonfoodbank.org for more information on how to help.

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