Last year, the Community Food Bank gave families 1,700 turkey dinners with all the trimmings and they expect to give away 2,000 on Monday and Tuesday.
But officials say the food pantry is short about 1,700 turkeys and time is running out.
“God has blessed us with food from food drives from the elementary schools, high schools and churches, and they have donated lots of canned goods,” said Regena Taylor, Community Food Bank executive director. “We have a lot of the fixings; we just can’t get enough turkeys. Everybody wants a traditional Thanksgiving dinner but we only have 300 turkeys.”
Community Food Bank volunteer Kia Geary, 38, who brought in 14 turkeys Friday, said that since she began volunteering for the food pantry in July, she has seen a steady increase in traffic. Most of the people lining up for food are children and the elderly, Geary said.
“It breaks your heart,” she said.
About one-quarter of the children in Tarrant County live in poverty, according to the Center for Public Policy Priorities, which advocates for more resources to fight poverty in Texas. Since cuts in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, better known as food stamps, took effect Nov. 1, volunteers at the food pantry say they have been overwhelmed with new clients, 400 to 500 per day.
“The people who come here don’t make enough money to feed their families and pay their bills,” Taylor said. “We have people who line up at our doors hours before we open.”
The Community Food Bank also partners with an organization that provides food for needy families with pets, called Don’t Forget to Feed Me. When people come in to ask for food, they are asked whether they need food for their pets, said Liesl Manone, Don’t Forget to Feed Me operations director.
“This serves two purposes,” Monone said. “People will take food out of their own mouths to keep their animals from starving or to keep from getting rid of a pet. They don’t want to see that animal starve.
“Not providing food for the pet takes food out of the mouths of the people.”