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Arlington Food Assistance Center helps feed thousands of families Thanksgiving meal, despite the rising cost of food

"We spent about $10,000 more for turkeys this year than in previous years and that was due to the inflation we are seeing right now."

ARLINGTON, Va. — As the price of turkey and other food items continue to climb, so does the strain on area food banks. This week there is a way you can help.

The Arlington Food Assistance Center helps provide a Thanksgiving turkey to nearly 2,500 families every year during "Turkey Week."

"There are a lot of people here in Arlington who are food insecure. Before the pandemic, there were families living paycheck to paycheck and the pandemic just exasperated the problem," said Jeremiah Huston, the Associate Director of Communications for the Arlington Food Assistance Center.

Huston said the nonprofit has also been impacted by the rising cost of food for items like turkey, poultry, and canned fruits and vegetables.

"For turkeys, because of our quantities, we have to do the purchase back in May to ensure that every family will get a turkey. This year we paid somewhere around $1.49 a pound which means overall we spent about $10,000 more for turkeys this year than in previous years and that was due to the inflation we are seeing right now," said Huston.

Last year Arlington Food Assistance Center spent about $37,000 to purchase turkeys for families in need. This year, the same order will cost the nonprofit nearly $47,000.

"Food prices have increased. That means we have two to spend a little bit more to help feed our families. We purchase about 60% of the groceries we give out and we purchased them in bulk to get a better price. But even with that, the prices have increased," said Huston.

"The holidays are usually a time where we see more families in need. We have day labors who are no longer working until probably the late spring and also opportunities are less so the need is bigger in the holidays and right now because of inflation the food prices have increased so families so families who are already struggling to get by are hit with another challenge so they come to us for support," said Huston.

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There are a couple ways the community can support the Arlington Food Assistance Center.

"Donations are very helpful. This weekend we have a lot of food drives going on in the community. You can learn more about the locations if you go to our website. You can also help us monetarily which will help us with our food purchasing budget so we can ensure our families get milk, eggs, protein and fresh produce at all times during the year," said Huston. 

"The other way families can help us out is by volunteering. We utilize about 2,300 volunteers throughout the year and volunteers are really the backbone of our organization. They do the food distribution for our families and they really help make sure everyone who is in need gets fed," said Huston.

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