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York County Shelter Food Pantry Struggling to Meet Thanksgiving Demand

York County Shelter Programs Food Pantry is looking for donations of turkeys to help fill the 900 or so Thanksgiving food boxes distributed to needy York County families and is hoping folks will step up to help. Here, assistant food pantry manager Jim Colligan pauses beside boxes of winter squash at the pantry.

By Tammy Wells – York County media specialist

Higher food prices over the past couple of years means a longtime York County pantry program is looking to the wider community to help it provide turkeys to about 900 needy families this Thanksgiving season.

Between the 900 food boxes dispensed at Thanksgiving and 500 more at Christmas, York County Shelter Programs’ Food Pantry distributes about 1,400 over the two holidays. Each box contains enough food for a family of four, adding up to meals for 5,600 people.

The Alfred-based program needs help.

“Costs are up. Inflation is 15 percent in the food industry,” said YCSP Food Services Director Scott Davis. The poultry industry has taken a hit with bird flu in recent years, driving turkey prices higher in 2022, Davis noted, and many remember the higher egg prices this spring. Davis said food distributors are trying to fill driving positions. All those factors together have driven up costs.

That, Davis said, means even though the agency calls local supermarkets to secure the best price they can for frozen turkeys, it is higher than sale prices offered to consumers closer to the holiday when the price may be lowered to encourage customers to come through the doors and buy other goods. Davis is hoping that individuals, businesses, and organizations will step up to help.

“If a local business or (government) department wants to do a turkey drive,” that would be a big help, he said. Those willing to conduct a drive can call him at 324-1137, ext. 116 or Food Pantry Manager Mike Ouellette at 391-3125.

Davis said the pantry, which operates in a building provided by York County government at the corner of Route 4 and Swett’s Bridge Road in Alfred, would also welcome and appreciate donations of turkeys by individuals and families. The frozen birds – 10-12 pounds is the ideal weight – may be dropped off at the pantry any weekday morning from 8 a.m. to noon.

Those who want to help may also mail a check, with “food pantry” in the check memo line, to York County Shelter Programs Food Pantry at P.O. Box 1268, Alfred, ME 04002.

Ouellette said this year, the Thanksgiving distribution will take place 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Monday Nov. 20, Tuesday Nov. 21, and Wednesday Nov. 22.

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