The result was that Fontana's first Eat & Be Well Thanksgiving Dinner on Wednesday at Seville Park served 1,600 plates.
With the help of Shelly Brown, a development coordinator for the College of Business and Public Administration at Cal State San Bernardino, her husband Tom, San Bernardino criminal defense attorney Gary Wenkle Smith and about 400 other volunteers the event drew homeless people, working poor and some 50 government and non-profit vendor-participants and a few for-profit firms as well.
Walgreens and Ontario-based Kids Come First gave free flu shots while San Bernardino-based Community Action Partnership of San Bernardino County passed out information about healthy eating and gave away large bags of free fruit, and representatives of South Coast Community Services talked about its offerings of behavioral services for children, teens, adults and families.
Social worker Mark Mariglia had a booth explaining outreach and health care programs for homeless veterans from the Jerry L. Pettis Memorial Veterans Medical Center in Loma Linda.
Among those enjoying the turkey and dressing dinner was Rick Coller, 60, who has been homeless for several years since losing his trucking job of 19 years after an accident.
Now he volunteers at a couple of churches.
"God will take care of the rest," he said.
Calvin Whaley, 52, who has been homeless since 2009, said the meal "is a blessing" and he "would not have eaten Tuesday" without it.
Fontana resident Baltazar Hernandez, 42, brought his wife and his five small children to the Thanksgiving spread, almost occupying a full table with his family.
An employee in a Chino factory, Hernandez said that the free event helps spread his food budget.
Among those donating time to dish up food was Larry Rose, dean of the College of Business and Public Administration at Cal State San Bernardino.
Since returning from living in New Zealand for over a decade, Rose said he and his wife, Ellen, believe it is important to become involved in the local community.
Food was donated from a variety of sources, cooked at the Cowboy Burgers restaurant in Rancho Cucamonga, warmed at Dolce Cafe in Montclair and delivered by a truck from the Fontana Unified School District, said Vasquez, who also owns a Cowboy Burgers restaurant in Baldwin Park.
Suchanek owns Firm Media, a marketing firm in Monrovia.
Contact Jim via email or by phone at 909-386-3855.