With Many in Need, Food Banks Struggle to Meet Demand This Holiday Season

The Greater Boston Food Bank estimates about 1.6 million Massachusetts residents are food insecure ahead of this Thanksgiving; organizations like the Vine Food Pantry in Roxbury are seeking enough donations to help those who need it.

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A tight supply chain and rising prices mean Thanksgiving will be 10% to 30% more expensive this year. It's putting a lot of stress on food banks that are trying to meet rising demand for assistance as the holidays approach.

The demand always spikes this time of year, but the current environment is especially difficult.

The Vine Food Pantry in Boston's Roxbury neighborhood has more than 100 bags of groceries for its community, but no turkeys. The faith-based organization, which is part of Walthall Chapel, tried out reach on social media to get turkeys in time for Thanksgiving, but has been unsuccessful so far.

Meanwhile, Stop & Shop is distributing 7,000 turkeys into Boston-area neighborhoods with the help of Shady Brook Farms and New England Baptist Hospital. An army of volunteers fanned out in Mission Hill Friday to distribute meals to 400 families. Some meals were delivered directly to affordable housing units.

"A lot of our families are in a low income or fixed income," said Elimercy Martinez, a property manager for one of the buildings. "All the inflation, people don't have enough. This means a lot to our community."

"The need is greater every year, and it seems like this year, because of COVID, it's even more difficult," said David A. Passafaro, president of New England Baptist Hospital. "So yes, we're worried, worried about our friends and neighbors here in Mission Hill. So we're just trying to help a little bit."

About 1.6 million in the Bay State are food insecure heading into this Thanksgiving, according to the Greater Boston Food Bank. It couldn't come at a worse time: prices are up, demand for assistance is growing and time is running out.

"This Thanksgiving will be the most expensive in my time," said Catherine D'Amato, president and CEO of Greater Boston Food Bank. "We're seeing disruptions in the food chain like at this facility here — and this is true across the country — but for the most part, we are able to meet the demand due to the generosity of a lot of food and financial donors."

In Roxbury, they're hoping some of that help comes their way in the next few days, with the demand for turkeys high and the donated supply low. If you'd like to help, contact In the Vine Food Pantry at inthevine.co@gmail.com or 857-334-9616.

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