Bay Area food banks cope with skyrocketing costs while feeding those in need

The queue of cars at the Alameda County Community Food Bank on Monday never seemed to get any shorter.

Hundreds of cars were lined up for Thanksgiving chickens — which are easier to get than turkeys right now, and the rest of the holiday fixings.

"I feel so happy. I can feel Thanksgiving again. Last year I didn't have anything," said Alberto Alcantar of Oakland.

Many of those who waited at the Oakland food bank said they are struggling financially. And one of their biggest challenges is keeping a roof over their heads with the high cost of living.

"I have a lot of rent. Too expensive. That's why once in a while I come to pick up (food)," said Oakland resident Sandy Song.

The food bank says their food distributions were never as large before the pandemic.

People have lost their jobs or have had their work hours reduced.

The food bank says it has not been hit too hard by supply chain shortages. But the cost of the food they buy has skyrocketed. It pays four times more for the same food it purchased pre-pandemic.

"Items are going up 3%, 6%, 17%. It may not seem like that much. But when you are buying millions of pounds of food, it's costing tens of thousands dollars per month just to get the food in the door," said food bank spokesman Michael Altfest.

Across town in West Oakland, the popular restaurant Horn Barbecue held a different Thanksgiving giveaway.

The restaurant handed out dozens of frozen turkeys and hundreds of hot smoked turkey lunches to those in the neighborhood around Mandela Parkway.

The owner said helping out is what the holidays are all about.

"It's very important for us to not just be in this community but to be able to give back. We're a part of it. It's just a way to show our heart," said owner Matt Horn.