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Turkey Trot participants take steps to feed others on Thanksgiving Day

Everyone is invited to “take a bite out of hunger” by participating in the inaugural “Encinitas 101 Turkey Trot and Food Drive” on Thursday, Nov. 27, Thanksgiving Day morning.

There will be two races, a 5K and 10K; runners and walkers of all ages may participate and are encouraged to wear costumes. There will $350, $200 and $100 cash awards for first, second and third place, respectively, for costumes that represent the spirit of Thanksgiving.

The course starts at the Encinitas sign on Highway 101 with a check-in time of 7 a.m. The route is along the Highway 101 Coast Road. Families are encouraged to join in, and babies in strollers are welcome.

The event organizer is Steve Lebherz, who created the successful Cardiff Kook Run. Co-organizing the event is Brenda Dizon, past president of Cardiff 101 Main Street.

As the two discussed plans for the race about five months ago, Dizon searched for a beneficiary. “I knew that food banks were drying up, so I went online to educate myself about them and then arranged to speak with Michael Lawson, director for the North County Community Services Food Bank,” said Dizon. What she heard shocked her.

“I had no idea the level of food insecurity in North County. After talking to Michael, we agreed to have NCCS as our beneficiary, and we hope it will continue to be our beneficiary for all the years to come.”

Lawson shared recent statistics about hunger in North County. One in almost 6 people is unsure where that next meal is coming from. The number rises to 1 in 4 for children, with 1 in 8 seniors being food-insecure, said Lawson. “We need a lot of help, so the Turkey Trot is a perfect partnership for us.”

For every dollar that NCCS receives, it is able to turn that back into almost five meals for North County recipients. “The average American eats about a pound and a quarter each meal,” said Lawson. “So that dollar makes a big difference.”

Last fiscal year, NCCS was able to distribute 2.3 million pounds of food in North County, which equates to about 1.7 million meals.

Trucks are out seven days a week picking up donated food from grocery stores, which is then taken to the NCCS central food bank in San Marcos, where other nonprofits are able to dispense it.

“Since the economic downturn, the demand for food necessities has increased by 60 percent, yet our financial donations have dropped by 40 percent. Though the need is being met, it is increasingly becoming more difficult, as we are now helping those that are under-employed, single-income homes and those that are still struggling to provide each and every day for themselves and their families,” Lawson said.

Thanksgiving Day morning is the biggest running day of the year, said Dizon. “So it seemed the perfect time” to stage the Turkey Trot. The entry fees are $34 and $44 for 5K and 10K races, respectively. A generous portion of the proceeds from the entry fee will go directly to the NCCS Food Bank.

Participants are also asked to bring a bag of nonperishable, nonexpired food to the check-in area to donate to the Food Bank.

Event organizers expect to attract about 3,000 runners. “We hear that Big Sur is the most incredible race route,” commented Dizon, “but I think we are No. 2 in California. To have this real estate available to us as a world-class race route is so fortunate.”

Registered participants may pick up bibs and race T-shirts from 1-7 p.m. Monday and Tuesday, Nov. 24 and 25, at Roadrunner Sports in Carlsbad.

To register, see the route and divisions for both races and to read FAQs, visit https://encinitas101turkeytrot.com Visit sdnccs.org to find out more about NCCS.


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