Beating the rains Tuesday morning, volunteers and Berkeley police began at about 6 a.m. to distribute roughly 250 holiday food baskets to needy families and organizations.
The baskets, weighing in at between 35 and 40 pounds each and able to feed eight, were delivered to families nominated by beat police officers working in their neighborhoods.
Ove Wittstock, director of the Berkeley Boosters Association, said additional baskets were also distributed to various shelters and housing organizations, mostly located in south and west Berkeley.
Lieutenant Russell Lopes said Tuesday that money for most of the food is raised through an annual “turkey ride.” Started in 1984, the ride is a 216 mile bike trek from Berkeley to South Lake Tahoe.
Money is raised through people pledging a given amount of money for each mile they ride.
The turkeys were donated by well-known local chef Narsai David, food and wine editor of KCBS radio and president of the Berkeley Community Foundation. Additional donations were made by the Berkeley Rotary Club and the First Presbyterian Church.
Over the course of 15 years, the program has distributed nearly two-hundred thousand pounds of food.
The baskets given out Tuesday contained a turkey and all the trimmings, Lopes said.
Identical food baskets will also be distributed about two weeks before Christmas. Anybody can ask for the baskets, which are given out according to need, Lopes said.