Based out of Hughson and Turlock, the local nonprofit organization United Samaritans make over 58 stops in Stanislaus County serving more than 1,500 free meals a day to those in need and organizers are learning how to stretch the money even further as the cost of food and gas takes a toll on the organization.
“We are planning ahead and working hard to try and balance it all to the best of our abilities,” said Executive Director Linda Murphy.
With the drastic inflation of products, their money spent on food went up 40 percent while their gas budget went from $80 to $85 every other day to $160 every other day for multiple trucks.
About 90 percent of stops are planned based around incoming calls from local apartment complexes and community centers that are occupied with people, but mainly elderly, in need of food or basic supplies.
The organization currently goes out around the county five days a week, with possibilities of having to go down to three or four days due to a decrease in funding and supplies.
“The rising cost of food is affecting us harshly, but we are currently maintaining thanks to donations and grants,” said Murphy.
United Samaritans are constant need for donations from funding to food. Donations may be dropped off at the Turlock center at 220 South Broadway or the Hughson center at 2413 3rd St. Most needed are bottled water, cereals, peanut butter, jam, canned beans, meats, fruit and empty egg cartons.
United Samaritans make a total of 15 stops in the Turlock area from 11:30 a.m. until 3:25 p.m.; 15 stops in the Keyes/Ceres area from 11:40 a.m. until 3:25 p.m.; 10 stops in the Modesto area from 11:20 a.m. until 2 p.m.; 13 stops in the Hughson/Empire/Waterford/Denair area from 11:35 a.m. until 2:50 p.m.; and five stops in the Patterson/Grayson/Newman area from 10:30 a.m. until 1:20 p.m.
Volunteers are constantly needed with spots available from 8 a.m. until 11 a.m. for cooks, prep, and loading up the trucks. A few spots are available for afternoon shifts to go out with the delivery but fill up fast. All volunteers with interest in helping can call the Turlock office at (209) 668-4853 or email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
The website www.unitedsamaritans.org, lists categories for volunteering, donations, and more specific drop off locations and times. The website also allows anyone to donate funding or goods through an Amazon wish list. Donating $10 will feed a family of five.
Along with the food drop-offs during the week, USF will also be holding a community canned food drive during the July 8 opening night of the Stanislaus County Fair. Guests may bring two cans of food and will receive a $2 off coupon on adult admission.
For more information, call the Turlock office at (209) 668-4853; or the Hughson office at (209) 883-9212.