The traditional turkey dinner is a staple in millions of American households on Thanksgiving Day.
Yet it is amazing how many people take that holiday meal for granted, not realizing that many of our neighbors won’t share in the tradition — at least not without the help of others — because they just can’t afford it.
The Community Food Bank, in Fort Worth’s Riverside neighborhood, certainly knows the need, as it tries to provide that meal to as many families as possible.
Last year, four days before Thanksgiving, the food bank was in a bind. It had collected only 300 turkeys and was expecting requests from well over 1,000 families.
With the help of food drives at schools, churches and some local businesses, the organization gets plenty of the canned goods and other products to provide the “trimmings” for the dinner. But what it mostly needs is the entrée.
A year ago, after the Star-Telegram published a story about the shortage, Wal-Mart came to the rescue (with others) by delivering 1,000 frozen turkeys. Volunteers from the store stayed around to pass out the dinner packages to needy families standing in a line stretching down the block.
This year the need is even greater, with a plan to feed 2,600 families on Thanksgiving, said chief operations officer Rudy Taylor.
“Our goal is to serve our hungry community in need [of] good nutritious food and to educate them on food safety and nutrition,” Taylor said. “However, Thanksgiving time is unique — regardless of one’s social economic status, ethnicity or religious belief, everyone wants a traditional Thanksgiving turkey dinner. The trimmings may vary from house to house, but everyone wants a turkey.”
The Community Food Bank’s pantry directly feeds more than 450 families a day (Monday through Thursday), with the average family size being four to six members.
Taylor said the pantry, which ministers to the Dallas/Fort Worth area without ZIP code restrictions, averages 75 new clients a day. About 40 volunteers a day assist with the food storage and distribution.
Long before the doors open at 9 a.m., a line begins forming outside, and there is a steady flow of people until the 2 p.m. closing.
In addition to provisions for humans, the food bank distributes pet food in cooperation with the “Don’t Forget to Feed Me” Pet Food Bank.
The clients served throughout the year are grateful for all they receive through this incredible community effort, but there is a special joy during the holidays when they see how the food bank works to make their Thanksgiving and Christmas meals special.
The organization’s “Operation: Destination Turkey Dinner” will be accepting frozen turkey donations through Nov. 25 at its facilities at 3000 Galvez Ave. Drop-off times will be from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays.
The Community Food Bank, which started out as a soup kitchen called Loaves & Fishes, has operated for more than 30 years. It has had its challenges over the years, including an arson-caused fire in 2006 that destroyed the building.
Still, the commitment to feed hungry seniors, children, veterans and the working poor never waned. In addition to operating its pantry, the organization also provides fresh and frozen foodstuffs to other small nonprofit groups that distribute food to the needy.
It continues to benefit this community in ways hard to imagine unless you see the hundreds who come daily for help in feeding their families.
Now the food bank needs our assistance at this special time. Show your gratitude by donating turkeys that can be shared with some of your neighbors.
For more information call 817-924-3333 or visit www.food-bank.org.