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Food Distribution Draws High Numbers
Riverbank residents taking advantage of the weekly free food distributions by the Christian Food Sharing group have been hitting high figures this winter.

"We served 140 families today," said organizer Bernice Bick at the close of Friday's distribution at the Scout Hall. "There were 162 before Thanksgiving and for the whole of November we served 483 families or 1,476 people."

The previous high for November was 1,199 people in 2005 following a comparatively low 876 in November of 2006.

Christmas specials such as turkey or chicken with cranberry sauce were part of the food items distributed Friday at the Scout Hall to eligible families and individuals.

"The turkey goes to the bigger families and the others get chicken," said Bick, adding the cardboard boxes also contain bread, pastries, rice, beans, pasta, fresh vegetables, fruit and other items.

There was a big crowd waiting in the cold by the time the doors were opened Friday, Bick commenting the patrons know the distribution will not start until 9 a.m. but still insist on gathering outside long before then.

An institution that has been operating since 1985, when Bick helped found it, Christian Food Sharing gets a government grant but raises as much again in cash and food donations from area stores.

It is also run entirely by volunteers, some of whom have labored there for many years.

"We average 20 or so volunteers every Friday. But we had a few more than usual this time, maybe 23 or 24. We needed them all," said Bick.

Of the volunteers, Betty Asman for instance, has been helping there since the year after the group was founded. Yolanda "Lolly" Guider has been with the group a long time. So has her mother Lucy Alcala, who now helps with interviewing applicants to see if they qualify by income. Lucy's sister Ruth Angelus worked there for many years before her death.

Other longtime volunteers include Vivian Faria who also helps with interviewing, Alberta Ybarra, Glenda Garcia and Linda Silva.

There are several male volunteers, including Richard Boos who drives the truck one day a week to pick up contributions and then helps on Fridays distributing yogurt and milk products in the hall. Another longtime male volunteer is Jim Stafford. He is both the buyer and a worker in the warehouse at the back.

"It's called the Scout Hall but to my knowledge, it's never housed any Scouts," Bick commented.

The original building was too small to be of use to the Christian Food Sharing group, so they tore it down and rebuilt it in 1992 before giving it back to the city.