OAKLAND -- One year after an NBA All-Star saved Oakland's annual free pre-Thanksgiving charity meal with a $25,000 donation, the city has postponed this year's event due to a funding shortage.
If fundraising picks up, the city will reschedule the meal to Dec. 23. Otherwise, it will be canceled for the first time in 22 years.
The meal has been traditionally served the Tuesday before Thanksgiving to about 2,000 seniors, homeless people and low-income residents at the downtown Oakland Marriott, which provides use of its banquet hall free of charge.
But the event, which includes a coat drive, has been teetering on the brink in recent years as food costs have increased and donations have dropped.
"We hate that we can't put it on (for Thanksgiving)," said Susan Shelton of the Department of Human Services. "We know the community depends on it. But we just don't have the resources."
Last year's meal was nearly called off until David Lee of the Golden State Warriors stepped up with a $25,000 donation. The Warriors and Oakland Raiders both contribute to the meal.
Organizers said they have collected about $28,000 of the $40,000 needed to hold this year's event.
The city provides $15,000 seed money, but the rest of the funds are donated. City officials said there was no money allocated in this year's budget to bail out the event.
Dorothy Emery, an Oakland resident who attended the meal in past years, said the city should have upped their contribution to safeguard the event.
"I feel that the citizens of Oakland should have that lunch," she said.
Donations can be made by check payable to The City of Oakland Hunger Program and mailed or delivered to Chrishelle Chatman, Department of Human Services, 150 Frank Ogawa Plaza, Suite 4340, Oakland, CA 94612. For more information about donating, call 510-986-2721.
Contact Matthew Artz at 510-208-6435