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Upcoming California power shutoffs might spoil Thanksgiving food donations

Posted at 2:55 PM, Nov 20, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-20 14:55:21-05

JACKSON, Calif.  -- The latest wave of California power shutoffs could disrupt Thanksgiving for thousands of people - especially many of those in need.

Many food banks across Northern California are now scrambling to prepare for a potential power shutoff as some have thousands of frozen turkeys and other perishable foods that can't be handed out without power, according to KTXL.

Denise is one of countless volunteers preparing food boxes at the Interfaith Food Bank in Amador County.

“This is like our second or third year we’ve done this,” she said. "Small community but a lot of hungry people."

This year it may be harder to keep those people fed. Executive director Beth Stanton explains it’s not a lack of donations that is the problem this year.

“Mostly we operate off donations from the community, and we get them and that’s how we keep going,” said Stanton. “I freaked out last week because I had two turkeys and we need 860, and then our freezer is full of turkeys today.”

Instead, the problem could be a lack of power. Pacific Gas & Electric Co. has included a portion of Amador County on its list of areas that could have their power cut this week, as strong winds are expected across the state.

After the last round of public safety power shutoffs, the food bank now has a power generator. But the clients the food bank serves may not.

“If we distribute a bunch of stuff that’s frozen or from the refrigerator and cold, what are people going to do with it? Take it home and not have anywhere to put it?” said Stanton.

Stanton said that doesn’t mean they won’t distribute food this week, but it may have to be non-perishables.

“But we’ll keep working filling these boxes," said Denise. "I’m going to get some more boxes.”

Denise and Stanton said, power or no power, they’re going to keep working feeding as many as they can.

“We just do the best we can," said Stanton. "Somehow it always works out.”

“It changes, Thanksgiving changes. It’s not like it always has been in the past but you have to adjust and make Thanksgiving,” said Denise.

Other food banks without generators in the blackout areas told KTXL they plan to use refrigerated trucks to keep their turkeys cold.  Most are communicating with other food banks to ensure no food goes to waste.