The Giants Help Bay Area Food Pantries Close Turkey Gap

The San Francisco Giants donated enough money to the San Francisco and Marin Food Bank to supply 1,000 turkeys to those in need this Thanksgiving. From left: actor Benjamin Bratt, sports radio announcer Jon Miller, Giants CEO Larry Baer, Food Bank Executive Director Paul Ash and Giants Manager Bruce Bochy.

The San Francisco Giants donated enough money to the San Francisco and Marin Food Bank to supply 1,000 turkeys to those in need this Thanksgiving. From left: actor Benjamin Bratt, sports radio announcer Jon Miller, Giants CEO Larry Baer, Food Bank Executive Director Paul Ash and Giants Manager Bruce Bochy.

A novelty check worth $10,000 was hoisted above the heads of four men on stage Tuesday night at the Castro Theater. The seats in front of them were full of Giants fans who had come to watch a film highlighting the victorious 2012 baseball season. But the check and cheering from the audience at this moment had nothing to do with baseball.

Paul Ash, executive director of the San Francisco and Marin Food Banks, was surrounded by men representing the World Series champions, the San Francisco Giants. Giants manager Bruce Bochy and CEO Larry Baer handed Ash a donation large enough to cover the cost of 1,000 turkeys and ensure that food pantries across the Bay Area could offer Thanksgiving dinners for families in need this holiday.

The Food Bank is the collection hub for thousands of pounds of food daily, which is then distributed to food pantries, soup kitchens and other meal-related charities throughout the Bay Area.

The weeks leading up to Thanksgiving have been troubling for the organization that’s responsible for supplying close to 100,000 meals to low-income Bay Area residents every day. The Food Bank just wasn’t getting what it needed to meet the high expectations of the holidays. It all added up to what they called a “turkey gap,” or a deficit of about 3,300 turkeys needed to supply charities like the Salvation Army, Walden House, Grace Cathedral and the St. Vincent de Paul dining room in Marin, which cook Thanksgiving meals for the homeless.

“We are not hitting the numbers we were projecting,” Ash said in a statement earlier on Wednesday. “The elections have been at the top of people’s minds, and we are hoping that now, heading into the holidays, people will start turning their attention to their neighbors in need.”

On Wednesday, the Giants management heard the Food Bank’s call for help.

“We just read in the paper that the Food Bank didn’t have what they needed,” said Staci Slaughter, the Giants’ vice president for communications. “We wanted to help meet the demands of the community.”

The generous check from the city’s winningest 2012 lineup isn’t enough to solve all of the Food Bank’s problems, however. The organization, which prides itself on being the largest provider of holiday meals in San Francisco and Marin, still needs donations for its regular food pantry needs, and more funding to help supply more than just turkey for holiday meals. It donates more than 1 million pounds of food to those who need it throughout November and December, and expect their good deeds to be matched by charitable donations to support their efforts. Typically, the holiday season accounts for 70 percent of the year’s fundraising.

The San Francisco and Marin Food Bank accepts donations through its website, where you can also find out how to get a holiday meal of your own.

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