The Orange County Rescue Mission hosts its first ever "Turkey Trot OC" 5k run/walk in Tustin Thursday morning to raise funds for and awareness of the less fortunate here.
Meanwhile, various groups have launched a program to expand the distribution of food stamps in Orange County as data shows an alarmingly high number of "food insecure households" in this little slice of paradise.
Turkey Trot OC runs from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. Thursday, starting and ending at the Rescue Mission's Village of Hope transitional living facility and mostly running along Valencia Avenue at the former Tustin Marine Corps Air Station base.
Jim Palmer, the nonprofit mission's president, figures the group's supporters will get "a fun and festive morning of giving back to the community before their big meal this year."
"Participants will have the unique opportunity to walk or run side by side with formerly homeless individuals living at the Village of Hope, as well as other community members and community officials," Palmer explained. "This event will not only be a fun way to build a sense of community, but will help to raise funds and awareness for the needs of those less fortunate in our community."
The goal is to raise enough money to provide 50,000 meals to less fortunate families and individuals throughout Orange County. A post-run breakfast of pumpkin pancakes with maple syrup, smoked bacon and freshly ground coffee will be served. Are you in? Visit TurkeyTrotOC.org or call 714.247.4374.
Healthy Connections is the pilot program that aims to increase CalFresh (a.k.a. food stamps, SNAP) outreach and enrollment in Orange County. The work group includes: Community Action Partnership of Orange County (CAPOC)/Orange County Food Bank (OCFB); Orange County Food Access Coalition; Children's Health Initiative of Orange County; Second Harvest Food Bank of OC; Orange County United Way; Give For a Smile; Orange County Social Services Agency; 211-OC; Catholic Charities; Access CA; and CLUE OC.
Since open enrollment began Nov. 15, trained work group members have been enrolling people through a streamlined application process known as One-E-App, checking for both CalFresh and Medi-Cal eligibility. Organizers say Orange County has "extremely low" participation in CalFresh and Medi-Cal, which alone includes 16 helpful programs.
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"Two factors that appear to make Orange County unique are our extraordinarily high housing costs and large number of low paying service industry jobs," explained Mark Lowry, the Orange County Food Bank director. "In addition to homeless and disabled people, the unemployed and seniors on fixed incomes, Orange County is home to many people who work but do not earn enough to feed their families."
Orange County is second in the state for the number of food insecure households and is ranked 43 out of 58 counties in California for CalFresh utilization relative to poverty level.
The most comprehensive anti-hunger and poverty relief organization in the county, CAPOC identifies neighborhood concerns and finds unique solutions for low-income children, families, seniors and veterans. Besides ending hunger and poverty, the organization promotes health, education and self-sufficiency. Learn more at capoc.org.