P.E.I. Food Banks Struggle to Provide Thanksgiving Turkeys Amid Rising Costs

by Ella

As Thanksgiving approaches, some of Prince Edward Island’s less fortunate residents may find their holiday celebrations less bountiful than in previous years. Island food banks are grappling with a decline in donations, primarily due to the high cost of living, which has strained the wallets of their regular supporters. Consequently, many essential holiday staples, such as turkeys, will be unavailable for those in need.

Norma Dingwell, who manages the Southern Kings and Queens Food Bank, explained that the organization’s budget cannot accommodate the distribution of turkeys, chickens, or ham for Thanksgiving. However, they are prepared to provide extra vegetables and other items to help alleviate the burden for those they serve. Dingwell also noted that asking community members to donate as they have in the past is a considerable request, especially during the holiday season.


Meanwhile, other food bank operators have observed a surge in demand for the items they do have available. The rising cost of housing, including rent and mortgages, as well as increased food and home heating expenses, have contributed to the increased demand for assistance.


Despite the challenges, many are still willing to do whatever it takes to support their families. The church, for instance, is offering take-away meals to those in need, prepared to serve up to 195 people.


At the Upper Room in Charlottetown, demand for food assistance has risen significantly. Executive director Mike MacDonald reported that the food bank has served over 3,100 people and the soup kitchen has served 3,500 people since September, marking a 25 percent increase in clients compared to the same period last year. MacDonald acknowledged that donors are also struggling, and the Upper Room is focusing its donation efforts on Christmas. Consequently, they will not be able to offer turkeys this Thanksgiving.


Preparations for the Upper Room Christmas hamper and turkey drive began in August, allowing the organization to gauge the level of need. Meanwhile, at the Vernon River/Belfast Community Pantry, co-ordinator Bonnie Shave purchased turkeys with extra donations received over the summer. However, the high demand became evident as all 20 turkeys were claimed within hours, illustrating the significant need in the community.

While the challenges faced by food banks are significant, communities are coming together to support one another during these trying times. As the winter months approach and the cost of living continues to rise, the demand for assistance is expected to increase. Food banks remain hopeful that community support will endure to help those in need.



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