David Circamer is sitting in the crowded Loaves and Fishes dining room with a heaping plate of food in front of him.
“Turkey, potatoes, the whole traditional turkey dinner. It’s great.”
Circamer is homeless construction worker wearing a baseball cap and a denim jacket. He says the housing crisis has made it tough to find work.
“There is no jobs here in Sacramento. It’s pretty bad right now.”
A few tables away, a woman named Shara is eating her meal. She’s been homeless for about six months.
“A lot of times what I have to do is try to find a place where I can sleep in my car.”
Shara hopes to find transitional housing and eventually take classes at Sacramento City College.
This dining room is packed with more people than last Thanksgiving, according to Loaves and Fishes’ executive director Sister Libby Fernandez.
“We served about 1,000 last year. We’re probably going to get 1,200 this year.”
Fernandez says when the economy is good, nearly all of their clients are chronically homeless people who suffer from mental illness or substance abuse issues. But this year is different. She says they’re seeing more working poor.
“They may not be homeless but they’re on the verge of losing some of their money that may go towards rent. So they would rather come here and get a free meal.”
About 10 volunteers are serving guests donated turkey, potatoes, stuffing and other food in an assembly line style. Lynn Laney is one of them.
“I’m pouring apple juice.”
Laney says she volunteers because she feels her own life is blessed and she wants to give back to the less fortunate. Plus it feels good.
“It’s just a really fun thing to do and to be here today. There’s a great spirit. Do you want water?”
Homeless Man: No. You want to get married though?
Sister Libby Fernandez says the mood at the annual Thanksgiving meal is always jovial…because for most people here…this is their family.
“A lot don’t have close by relatives, family members. Maybe they’ve burned the bridges through drug and alcohol or mental health issues. But here at least they can be one family.”
Volunteers are already gearing up to collect donated food and clothing for Loaves and Fishes’ annual Christmas meal next month.