Cranberries, stuffing, green bean casserole, yams, mashed potatoes and . . . tuna fish. Many of the Valley's less fortunate may end up eating something other than turkey this Thanksgiving because of a lack of donations this holiday season.
As of Monday, St. Mary's Food Bank — one of the two major food banks serving the East Valley — was out of donated turkeys.
"Many of our staff members have been here for years and years and they've never seen it like this before," said Sandy Schimmel, director of community relations for St. Mary's Food Bank in Phoenix. "Usually a few days before Thanksgiving people say they've got to get it together and get to the food bank, but I was here all day Saturday and I think we had 15 turkeys donated." St. Mary's needs 5,000 turkeys donated in the next two days to meet their demand, Schimmel said.
Every year, St. Mary's Food Bank strives to distribute more than 7,000 turkeys in individual emergency food boxes and to the 468 agencies it serves, such as the Salvation Army, Schimmel said.
St. Mary's obtains some of the turkeys through the Buy-A-Bird program. People can make a tax-deductible $15 donation that provides a needy family a turkey and all of the trimmings for a traditional holiday meal.
St. Mary's bought 3,800 turkeys Thursday in the hope that local residents would "buy the birds" and more. By Monday morning, all of the turkeys had been distributed, but only 200 had been purchased, Schimmel said.
"We want to give the less fortunate the best holiday we can, but it sounds like the turkey will be missing for very many people," Schimmel said. "We've been putting chicken into our emergency boxes with some of the trimmings and I guess we might end up putting in extra cans of tuna or some other protein products."
Kim Brooks, program manager for United Food Bank in Mesa, said they provide food in bulk to 240 agencies.
"We've given out 1,700 turkeys so far and we could probably fill our agencies' needs with another 1,000 turkeys," Brooks said.