Need for food pantries increases even more during the holidays


DALLAS (NewsNation Now) — The pandemic has impacted everyone in different ways, and for many the financial burden means missing out on the usual Thanksgiving meal. On the opposite end of the spectrum, some consumers buying up so much this week that grocery stores are feeling the hit of pandemic panic buying in 2020. Holiday meals will look different this year for many.

“Oh you’re going to make me cry,” said Tina Johnson, a Texas food bank recipient. “Without you guys, I wouldn’t have a Thanksgiving dinner.”

This holiday season, what used to be the little things have now been magnified to mean so much more.

“This blessing that they’re giving us today will allow us to have that turkey, and that ham, and that dressing and that green bean casserole,” said Debra Collett who visited the Harvesting in Mansfield food pantry just outside of Dallas.

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Cars as far as the eye could see were winding through Mansfield, Texas, to make it to the front of the Harvesting in Mansfield food pantry line. That’s 750 vehicles for 5.3 miles, to be exact.

Lisa Richardson is the associate executive director of the Harvesting in Mansfield Center. She says it wasn’t until the throes of a pandemic that many Americans remembered how expensive the traditional Thanksgiving meal was.

“At the store, a Thanksgiving meal with the ingredients that we have would run close to $85 to $100,” said Richardson. “The turkeys that we’re giving away are between 15 and 20 to 25 pounds, so they run about $25.”

She has seen demand at her food bank increase by 300 percent in 2020. On Monday, there was so much traffic that the local police department was called in to help.

“For some people, this means everything,” said Mansfield Officer Trey Kerr. “Literally this is where they get not just a meal— this affords them the opportunity to pay some of their other bills that maybe they were going to get behind on.”

Grocery stores across the country also feeling the pressure of holiday demand and pandemic panic buying.

“Everybody is buying for Thanksgiving, but there’s not a lot to buy,” said one grocery shopper in Tennessee.

Some chains like Kroger and Albertsons are imposing seasonal shopping restrictions on items like cleaning supplies and meat products to ensure Americans have access to need.

“They have completely shifted how they produce things to try to catch up,” said Rob Ikard, president of the Tennessee Grocers and Convenient Store Association.

He insists there is plenty of supply, but asks consumers to be cognizant of their norm and of others.

“There is product coming behind the product that’s just been bought off the shelves,” said Ikard. “Just maintain your regular shopping patterns and we shouldn’t have a problem.”

And in a year when everyone’s biggest craving is just a taste of normalcy, maintaining an attitude of gratitude might just be the biggest blessing of them all.

“I’m thankful to be alive, I’m thankful for my family and it’s turning out to be a really good day because of this,” Johnson told NewsNation as she waited inside her car for her Thanksgiving turkey.

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