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Memorial Day Tops Christmas As St. Anthony’s Busiest Day Of Year In San Francisco’s Tenderloin

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The St. Anthony Foundation building in San Francisco. (St. Anthony Foundation)

The St. Anthony Foundation building in San Francisco. (St. Anthony Foundation)

DougSovern20100908_KCBS_0208r Doug Sovern
Doug began his career as a copy boy at the New York Times, and then...
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SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS)— The line snaked around the block in San Francisco’s Tenderloin as several thousand people came to St. Anthony’s Dining room for franks and beans. You might be surprised, but it’s Memorial Day (not Thanksgiving or Christmas) that’s the dining hall’s busiest day of the year.

Many of those who show up for the free meal are armed-service veterans. Karl Robillard said they come for their traditional holiday spread.

“Naturally, during the traditional holidays people are thinking of those less fortunate. I think during these summer holidays it’s harder for folks to focus on that. They’re thinking of a bbq, they’re thinking of getting out of town, so we kind of end up in a perfect storm. We have the biggest need and really have to reach out for the help,” he said.

Remarkably, 25 percent of the hungry and the homeless are veterans; men and women who served their country.

Memorial Day Tops Christmas As St. Anthony’s Busiest Day Of Year In San Francisco’s Tenderloin

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Henry Innocente was one of those people lined up for a meal. He was in the Army Airborne during the Vietnam War.

“It’s a blessing. I look at this kitchen as a sacred place, you know because they help a lot of people who come up short,” he said.

Only three percent of Americans are veterans. Those who have served are disproportionately represented among the Bay Area’s needy, not just on Memorial Day, but every day.

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