Resources for families in need this holiday season

Inflation is taking its toll on the annual feast
Published: Nov. 22, 2022 at 2:31 PM CST
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APPLETON, Wis. (WBAY) - Inflation is taking a toll on the traditional Thanksgiving spread.

The American Farm Bureau Federation reported a feast for 10 costs just over $64 on average this year. That’s a nearly $11 increase from last year’s average.

“What households are seeing is when they just save enough money to buy their thanksgiving dinner--this year it might be that they just can’t do that,” President & CEO of Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin Patti Habeck said.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Consumer Price Index lays out a nearly 17% jump for poultry at the grocery store over the past year.

Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin spent 20% more on turkeys this holiday season. It’s a food bank, meaning volunteers pack up items to send to food pantries and distribute into communities.

“We have given turkeys to over 400 food pantries. A lot of turkeys. But with that we make sure we’re able to provide all the traditional foods. The cranberry, the stuffing, the potatoes,” Habeck explained. “We just really believe that at this time of year having that food around the table that people recognize, whether it’s culturally appropriate food or whether it’s what people can put together for their family recipes. It’s critical for that sense of belonging and inclusion on Thanksgiving.”

The rising price tag is taking a toll on people in need.

Habeck said food pantries across Northeast Wisconsin are seeing a 60-80% increase in families looking for help.

“What we’re working to do right now is to make sure every household, every one of those 500,000 people in need have access to food at the holidays but also in between the holidays and after the holidays.”

Feeding America’s number of volunteers dip in January. The non-profit needs support boxing up items for food pantries year-round.

“We always say what we need is food, funds and friends which is donations of food, donations of dollars but also donations of time,” Habeck began. “That’s a time that a lot of people forget that we need help so sign up now for those volunteer shifts. We will bring the number back down eventually but right now the way it is, we absolutely need help.”

Anyone looking for help filling their table can call Wisconsin’s non-profit and government services hotline at 211. Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin’s website also has a list of resources, including food pantries and soup kitchens.

“Please don’t sit home and be concerned about asking for help. It happens and it’s happening to more people. We’re seeing a drastic increase in the amount of people asking for help... We will make sure there is food on your table,” Habeck assured.

You've probably seen it at grocery stores. Now imagine buying food to feed thousands.