Fresno State’s sixth annual Give a Gobbler campaign will provide student-produced holiday turkeys for struggling families through Bulldog Pantry, a student-run food bank serving university neighbors, and through the Community Food Bank and Poverello House.

Turkeys are raised on the campus farm by animal science students in the Jordan College of Agriculture Sciences and Technology, under the direction of Michelle Ganci, an animal science professor.

Students participate in all aspects of getting turkeys ready for market – feeding, environmental management and health care. The poultry is processed and packaged by Zacky Farms and sold at the student-run Rue and Gwen Gibson Farm Market on campus for $1.49 per pound. Each frozen bird typically weighs 18-22 pounds.

For the Give a Gobbler drive, donors can purchase turkeys for $25 at the Gibson Farm Market and choose which community benefit organizations will receive the gift. Donations of $5 and $10 toward the purchase of a turkey are also accepted. The drive will end Dec. 23.

Fresno State President John D. Welty kicked off the drive, as he has every year, with his pledge to purchase four birds and a challenge to students, employees and the community to join in the Give a Gobbler effort since it began in 2006.

Taking up the challenge for the second year is RCO Ag Credit Inc. President Mitchell Metzler, a Fresno State agricultural business alumnus, announced his company will donate 50 turkeys.

The drive is particularly significant this year as the local charities have experienced a decrease in donations, said Dr. Charles Boyer, dean of Jordan College. “We encourage everyone to come out to the Gibson Farm Market this holiday season and help provide a turkey dinner for those in need in our community,” he said.

The Bulldog Pantry, established in 2007 south of campus (2311 E. Shaw Ave), distributes groceries to students and families each Saturday and has extended service to the needy in El Dorado Park, a neighborhood west of campus. The Community Food Bank and Poverello House have been Give a Gobbler beneficiaries since the program launched in 2006.

The animal science students raise poults – turkeys that are a day or two old – at the Fresno State Poultry Unit for 18-23 weeks, before the turkeys are sent to Zacky Farms for processing. The Poultry Unit is one of the university’s enterprises on the 1,083-acre Agricultural Laboratory.

“The group of students I have is really quite amazing,” said Ganci, who is a Fresno State alumna. “They’re proud of being able to raise the birds to get hands-on experience, provide a quality food source and give back to the community.”

Donation checks can be made out to Agricultural Foundation of California State University, Fresno and sent to Agricultural Operations, c/o director, California State University, Fresno, 2385 E. Barstow Ave., M/S AG85, Fresno CA 93740.

The Gibson Farm Market at Barstow and Chestnut avenues is open 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday.  

For more information, contact Jennifer Sobieralski, Gibson Farm Market manager, at 559.278.9124 or jsobieralski@csufresno.edu.