Next week, millions of Americans will sit down to full tables for a Thanksgiving feast. But for some Arizonans, that won't be possible without donations to Valley food banks.
St. Mary's Food Bank in Phoenix is about 5,000 turkeys short of its annual goal this year, says Jerry Brown, spokesman for the organization. Foothills Food Bank in Cave Creek also is in need of more turkeys, its executive director says.
In light of the shortages, both food banks are ramping up efforts for donations with one week to go until Thanksgiving. St. Mary's Food Bank aims to distribute more than 20,000 turkeys during the holiday season, and Brown said St. Mary's usually gives out 7,000 birds in just the three days leading up to Thanksgiving. The bank also seeks food items to round out family dinners across the country.
People are encouraged to donate everything from canned vegetables to pumpkin pie.
"Anything that you can imagine on your table on Thanksgiving — someone in need would like to have the same thing," Brown says.
Whether it's organic or Butterball, both banks will accept any kind of turkey, and they have the capability to properly store and refrigerate a bird.
For families in Arizona, these kinds of donations can make a huge difference. Both Brown and Pam DiPietro, the executive director of Foothills Food Bank, say many clients accepting food donations have jobs. According to Brown, One in five Arizonans live below the federal poverty line and are considered food insecure. Emergency food boxes from St. Mary's often help a family eat for three to four days before the next paycheck is cashed in.
"They could be your neighbor for all you know," DiPietro said. "There are so many out there that had a good job, lost that job, found a job, and are making maybe half of what they were earning. Those people are struggling today to figure out how they’re going to make ends meet."
Meanwhile, Foothills is working to keep up with the demand for food.
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"We’re seeing a lot of food going out our doors and we’re trying desperately to keep up with it coming in," DiPietro said.
On Saturday, November 21, St. Mary's will hold its annual Super Saturday Turkey Drive, accepting food or money donations at 13 Albertsons locations across the Valley as well as any food bank location.