Peninsula News

Woman's attempt to feed hungry nearly hits snag

Thursday, November 24, 2011

A South San Francisco woman's dream to feed the homeless on Thanksgiving Day has been fulfilled, but it almost didn't happen.

Jackie Jo Lopez owns a small business. She wanted to give back to the community, but the city threatened to shut her down.

At 10 a.m., a small group of people in South San Francisco waited outside an office building on Grand Avenue to be fed.

After the doors opened, more people began trickling in. Once inside this hall, people sat down at a beautiful table and were served a thanksgiving meal -- all courtesy of Lopez and a few of her friends.

"I was homeless at one point," Lopez said. "I ran my business out of my van; I was selling flowers in Walnut Creek."

Lopez eventually found a home and opened an event planning business in South San Francisco. Today she wanted to give back to those who are struggling.

She's held private events out of her business before, but when the city found out she was expecting up to 300 people, officials threatened to shut her down. Inspectors had found the building had a number of safety code violations.

"The only way we would have shut it down is if there were life threatening issues such as being overcrowded," said Sgt. Joni Lee with the South San Francisco Police Department. "They weren't in compliance with the building requirements."

As it turns out, her estimates fell short -- less than 45 people showed up.

"It's very nice to help people when they don't have homes and stuff and they need food," said South San Francisco resident Jessica Iniguez.

"Right now I have a few bills to pay so this is a very good way to get a meal without spending much money," said Charlie Leech, "otherwise I would spend about $14 for a turkey dinner."

Lopez herself was happy to have celebrated Thanksgiving, her way.

"I was determined and now I am successful and now I want to share my success with the less fortunate people," Lopez said.

Going forward, police say the building must be up to code if they want to hold any future events, and that's something for her landlord to deal with. Lopez says all she wanted to do was feed some people, and she did.

(Copyright ©2014 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.)

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Tags:
hunger, charities, south san francisco, peninsula news, lyanne melendez
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