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Greater Boston Food Bank Can't Get Its Hands On Enough Turkeys To Meet Thanksgiving Demand03:28
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Timothy Sanders, right, hands a pie to Brian Morrill, left, senior manager for donations for the Greater Boston Food Bank. (The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
Timothy Sanders, right, hands a pie to Brian Morrill, left, senior manager for donations for the Greater Boston Food Bank. (The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

The Greater Boston Food Bank is coping with a shortage of turkeys to distribute this Thanksgiving — a side effect of the call to limit the size of Thanksgiving gatherings and travel for the holiday.

"If you think about the fact that families used to have one Thanksgiving dinner with 20 people," said GBFB Senior Vice President Arlene Fortunato. "Now there are 20 Thanksgiving dinners on Zoom calls, so the need for turkeys has increased exponentially."

Fortunato said the Greater Boston Food Bank is committed to getting turkeys to all of its clients who want one, but that has forced the organization to get creative.

"We've been able to distribute some real turkeys and real poultry parts," she said, "but we've also distributed 40,000 gift cards so that clients can go to the grocery store and purchase the protein of their choice.

Leaders with the Greater Boston Food Bank have seen a 50% jump in the need for food since the coronavirus pandemic began in March. The group reports it gave out 68 million pounds of food between March and September, which is roughly the same amount it gave out in the entire fiscal year prior.

Fortunato anticipates more food insecurity and more demand for the group's services in the months to come.

"We're looking at the second surge of COVID, the winter months are brutal," she said. "We've only seen an increase and we think it's going to stay that way."

She said the most impactful way people can help The Greater Boston Food Bank's mission is by a cash donation through the group's website.

For people in need of food assistance, Fortunato recommends visiting the group's website and clicking on the "Need Food" tab to find local organizations across the greater Boston area.

This segment aired on November 25, 2020.

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Dan Guzman is senior producer for Morning Edition at WBUR.

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