Commentary: Turkey Giveaway Victim of Its Success

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(Sacramento, CA)
Friday, December 5, 2008

I hesitate to complain. After all, I didn’t volunteer or even donate a turkey. But I did report on the turkey giveaway at the Sacramento Food Bank last week. Thousands of people were given a turkey with all the trimmings - a good thing. But recipients had to wait in line for four and five hours to get their free turkeys, and that was painful.

Some became unruly. Police had to be brought in to keep order. Some of the needy were disabled, in wheel chairs; many were elderly and sick; Many had small children in tow. One man I talked to had just come off his job on the night shift. He was practically asleep on his on his feet. He, his wife and 18-month old daughter had been in line an hour and a half when I saw them, but they still had several hours more to wait.

As food bank officials explain it to me - they were victims of their own success, and the narrow doorways of their building. Thousands showed up for free turkeys but there was just one narrow doorway to let everyone in and that same narrow doorway to let everyone out.

Next thanksgiving - or later this month, if enough Christmas hams are donated - Food Bank folks promise to do things better. Good. And I promise to make a donation.


Ginger Rutland writes for The Sacramento Bee opinion pages.