The Coast News Group
The Rincon Band of Luiseño Indians provided 600 meals during Monday’s first annual North County Thanksgiving Turkey Giveaway in Escondido, Oceanside and Vista. Pictured are military veterans and their families in line at the Vets’ Community Connections in Oceanside. Photo by Steve Puterski

Rincon tribe delivers 600 free Thanksgiving meals

OCEANSIDE — Hard times can befall anyone and it’s one reason why the Rincon Band of Luiseño Indians and Vons teamed up to deliver Thanksgiving meals.

The tribe organized its first North County Thanksgiving Turkey Giveaway on Nov. 20 to help those who are in need.

Rincon Chairman Bo Mazzetti said it took about two months to organize and prepare the drive, which was held at the North Inland Live Well Center in Escondido, the Vets’ Community Connections in Oceanside and North County Lifeline in Vista to donate 600 meals, all paid for by the tribe.

“I remember when people came out and gave us food,” Mazzetti said. “I never forgot that. Times have changed a bit and now we get to help others who are less fortunate.”

Christine Calderon, store director for Vons’ Carmel Valley location on Valley Center Drive in San Diego, said the tribe contacted her store to purchase a massive order. Several weeks into planning, both parties realized the Vons was not in Valley Center near the reservation, but the process was well underway and Calderon said she wasn’t going pass on the opportunity to order the meals for the tribe’s giveaway and provide logistical support for the event.

“It’s tough to get those big orders in, especially around the holidays, but we made it happen,” Calderon said. “It makes a world of difference. It’s also a thank you for service to veterans.”

Darrell Mangham, a 20-year Navy veteran and Vet Connector at VCC, said it is hard for veterans, especially active duty service members, to transition to civilian life. Additionally, it is difficult for many veterans to ask for help, so joining forces with Rincon and Vons was an easy call. The VCC, which is in its second year, provides transition services, but mostly through its call center, Mangham said. They registered 160 people and the Nov. 20 event was an opportunity to put faces with names and lend a helping hand.

“It’s a great opportunity for them to assist their families,” he said. “A lot of them are facing food shortages … even if it’s a few items.”