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111417 Lompoc food pantry turkeys

Angel Ramos, coordinator of the Lompoc Food Pantry, holds one of the hams being kept in a mostly empty freezer at the Lompoc facility. He and others at the Food Pantry are hoping to acquire more than 400 turkey and ham donations over the next few days.

With a mostly empty freezer and Thanksgiving fast approaching, organizers at the Lompoc Food Pantry are hopeful the community will step up and help the agency provide holiday meals for more of the city’s less fortunate families.

The Food Pantry, which is run by Catholic Charities, is in desperate need of turkeys and hams. Coordinator Angel Ramos said that the agency estimates that it will need at least 500 combined turkeys and hams to fulfill the need that it faces. As of Tuesday afternoon, nine days before Thanksgiving, he said the pantry had a total of just 19.

“Usually by now, we have that place cleaned out and filled with turkeys, but not this year,” he said.

Last year, the Lompoc Food Pantry was able to give out 478 turkeys and hams to local families in need, and Ramos said “we need more than that” this year.

Ramos attributes at least part of the decline this year to the absence of a longtime private donor who had typically given about $1,000 worth of turkeys each year.

Making the issue more pressing is that he would like to start giving out the turkeys and hams on Friday.

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Anyone who would like to donate to the effort can do so by bringing turkeys and/or hams to the Food Pantry at 325 North 2nd St., by paying for a turkey and/or ham at Vons or Albertsons that will then be delivered to the Food Pantry by the store or by making a monetary donation to the Food Pantry.

Clients who utilize the Food Pantry year-round, as well as large families, will be given priority, Ramos said. If turkeys and hams are still available Nov. 22 — the day before Thanksgiving — they will be given out that day on a first-come, first-served basis to anyone who has a file at the Food Pantry. The facility will close at 1 p.m. Nov. 22.

Ramos noted that he has received a small donation from Walmart and recently picked up eight turkeys from Albertsons, but he said he’s hopeful that donations will pick up over the next week.

“They don’t have to be real big — anything from 10 to 15 pounds,” he said of the turkeys and hams. “We’re trying to get as many as we can.”

Willis Jacobson covers the city of Lompoc for Lee Central Coast Newspapers. Follow him on Twitter @WJacobsonLR.