TWIN FALLS, Idaho — Food banks always play a crucial role in helping families fulfill their needs during the holiday season. With Thanksgiving quickly approaching, several local food banks are anticipating similar numbers in visitors to last year, and in some cases, even more people.
“I think people feel freer, they want to go places, they want to get out, and they come to us," said Marvin Barnes, a Leadership Team Member for Mustard Seed. "We have to constantly remember we’re not just talking about the person that’s homeless. We may be talking about the person who’s just going through a tough time.”
Although Mustard Seed has seen about a 5% decrease in people utilizing their services throughout the entire year, they expect a large resurgence this Thanksgiving.
Organizations are experiencing a variety of different people coming to their doors for assistance. Some are still experiencing lingering economic effects from COVID-19. Other food pantries have seen an influx of new families that have come to the area.
“A new family comes into the community, moving into the community from another state," said, Pedro Contreras, the Senior Pastor for the Center of Prayer and Worship. "I think that's how it increased, it’s probably because of that.”
Last year, the Center of Prayer and Worship saw an increase of nearly 20% to 25% of people coming to get food. This year it's looking like it will be a 35% increase.
Although food banks are feeling the demand increase, they are being impacted by the limited availability of turkeys. Some will only be selling pieces, and some not at all.
“The turkey shortage is affecting people," said Barnes. "We will have turkey breasts coming to us from Idaho Foodbank. We’re getting plenty in.”
Due to the turkey shortage, food pantries have been receiving donations from community members and other local organizations.
“Idaho Foodbank and also all the local stores in town...they have been willing to donate the food they have available that are in good condition,” said Contreras.
Despite the challenges that food banks face during the busy holiday season, they're appreciative of the community's effort to help other families have a happy Thanksgiving.
“It’s a big day, and we here at the Mustard Seed have one thing to say to the community of Twin Falls," said Barnes. "Thank you for allowing us to give people something to eat."