Thanksgiving week is usually buzzing with energy – from last minute grocery shopping to coordinating travel plans with family, the week can feel overwhelming. However, for many of our neighbors, the feelings of stress do not come from an overabundance and juggling conflicting plans, but rather stem from a lack of food. The week of Thanksgiving marks one of the busiest times at Food for Others. Our team spends much of the fall preparing for Thanksgiving – from coordinating volunteer efforts to increasing bulk food orders, the season requires months of planning.
Another important factor of this year’s holiday planning is the increasing need we’ve seen throughout 2023 at our warehouse. Food for Others has seen a 30% increase in distributions compared to years prior. The causes of this vary – from the opening of My Market in January to the end of the COVID-era emergency allotment of SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits in March – there are many factors that impact the availability of food. For our neighbors who are struggling, investing in a turkey cannot be a priority.
With the rising need for food in our community during the holidays, we also see an outpouring of community support. In early November, the Boy Scouts collected over 13,000 lbs. of food through Scouting for Food and Paul VI Catholic High School’s annual food drive collected over 39,000 lbs. of food for Food for Others. We see local businesses and families coordinating food drive efforts – something Food for Others is forever grateful for. Much of the food we receive during the holidays helps support us throughout the year, helping during seasons of decreased donations.
While the connection between abundance and the holidays is undeniable – this season is most importantly about compassion. As you put the finishing touches on your Thanksgiving desserts in preparation for the holiday, we encourage you to fully embrace this season of giving. Prioritizing compassion, whether through a donation, volunteering, or discussing the stark reality of food insecurity as you sit around the Thanksgiving table, helps further the efforts of local food banks and pantries. As we enjoy our Thanksgiving dinners, keep your hearts open to your neighbors facing an empty plate.