Over 90 single-parent students studying at Hancock College received everything they need to make a family Thanksgiving meal on Nov. 23 during the college's 13th annual turkey distribution.

The program, organized in partnership with Spencer's Fresh Markets, provides turkeys and other Thanksgiving staples to single parents involved in the college's Extended Opportunity Programs and Services and Cooperative Agencies Resources for Education support programs. 

This year, the college expanded the distribution event to be open to students in additional programs including CalWORKS, Rising Scholars, Foster Youth Services, CAN/TRIO, AIM to Dream, Noncredit Counseling, Veterans, Learning Assistance and Basic Needs. 

By expanding eligibility, the college saw the number of students registered for the drive-through distribution nearly double from last year. 

"Between the Santa Maria and Lompoc campuses, we're serving around 300 family members," estimated Alex Spiess, program coordinator for Extended Opportunity Programs and Services.

As students pulled up to the distribution site outside the administration building on the Santa Maria campus on Nov. 23, college staff got to work loading a baking tray filled with pumpkin pie, whipped cream and butter, a bag with green beans, cranberries, rolls, potatoes, gravy and stuffing, and a 12-pound frozen turkey into their cars.

Hancock student Duli Franco, one of several students to stop by, said the distribution helps provide relief to families like hers as the pandemic continues to cause hardship.

"Everyone is struggling a bit still due to the pandemic. I’m a single parent, so this helps a lot," Franco said. "It encourages people to know that the community still cares."

Hancock staff, faculty, administrators and members of the college’s Board of Trustees donated around $4,000 for the purchase of turkeys and other food, according to college spokesman Chris McGuinness. 

“It's a really heartwarming event that we look forward to every year," Spiess said. "The students are always so happy and excited to be able to put a Thanksgiving meal on their table." 

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Santa Maria City Reporter

Originally from the Pacific Northwest, Laura Place covers city government, policy and elections in Santa Maria and Santa Barbara County. Follow her on Twitter @itslaurasplace

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