Thanksgiving, Food Bank Edition


The Thurston County Food Bank faces a turkey shortage this week after nearly 4,000 families registered for a free Thanksgiving basket.

The food bank buys its turkeys in July to ensure there are enough to go around, but about 800 more families signed up this year than last year, executive director Robert Coit said.

“I’ve been scrambling to get more,” Coit said of the turkey supply. “It took us a little by surprise.”

Some families will get a large chicken instead of a turkey, but their baskets will still come fully stocked with a complete Thanksgiving meal of potatoes, apples, canned vegetables, stuffing mix, squash and ingredients for pumpkin pie along with a pie-crust recipe and instructions for cooking the turkey.

This week is the busiest time of year for the food bank. The cost for each Thanksgiving basket ranges from $30 to $45, depending on household size.

People began lining up several hours before the doors officially opened for the giveaway at 11 a.m. Monday. At that time, the line stretched around the corner, with more than 100 people of all ages, including seniors and young parents with babies. A steady stream of people exited with shopping carts full of food.

One of those recipients was Pierre Gosselin, who praised the food bank for its support beyond just providing a Thanksgiving meal for people in need. Gosselin said the food bank “has kept him going” since he arrived in Olympia two years ago, including a six-month stretch when he was homeless.

“This is beautifully run,” he said of the food bank. “It elevates people, and it doesn’t make people feel like they’re taking a handout.”

Nearly 100 volunteers were expected to help with Monday’s effort. Volunteer coordinator Jen Butti believes in the mission so much that last summer she quit her job as a legal secretary and took a staff position at the food bank.

“Every time I drove by the food bank, I’d point and say, ‘I’m supposed to be going here today,’ ” Butti said in between loading food into carts Monday morning. “There’s so much love in this place.”

Those who missed Monday’s distribution will be able to get a basket Wednesday.-Andy Hobbs


While hunger is a year-round need, the public is more aware of it this time of year. We’re officially into the holiday season. As my inbox fills up with email requests and inquires, I always tell my students “If you want to know the need and the story; go to the source.” Many are pulling together to provide families in need with Thanksgiving dinner. I think every child should have a traditional Thanksgiving dinner and every decent person should be donating whatever they can to food banks, shelters, etc. to ensure everyone can eat a full meal on Thanksgiving. Donating food is one of the simplest, most rewarding, and most direct ways to give back. Each can of food you contribute makes a difference. Wanting to give to a food bank this holiday season?


  • Canned Cranberry
  • Canned Pumpkin
  • Pie-crust recipe
  • Stuffing mix
  • Yams
  • Peas
  • Mixed Vegetables
  • Gravy
  • Dehydrated Mashed Potatoes or small bags of potatoes
  • Boxed Rice Pilaf
  • Olives
  • Evaporated Milk
  • Flour
  • Sugar
  • Onions
  • Frozen turkeys and hams
  • Dinner rolls
  • Bread crumbs
  • Fresh fruit And vegetables
  • Eggs
  • Ground coffee
  • Orange juice

Money instead of tangible food items. Food banks can stretch their donations farther by taking advantage of bulk discounts.

Volunteer putting together food baskets.

What to avoid:

Bulk items (such as from Costco) Food banks prefer to receive family-size items. For a time-crunched nonprofit, it takes us a lot of time and volunteers to separate a large bag of sugar into smaller portions suitable to give out to families coming through the food bank.

Glass is fragile and items in bags are easily crushed.

Homemade goods cookies or breads are a nice thought, but food banks can’t accept homemade foods, open or partially used items, or noncommercial packaged items because of food-safety guidelines.

This is just a real life list from those I interact. To find out what food banks most need, visit your local food bank web sites for specific drop-off locations and wish lists.

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8 Responses to Thanksgiving, Food Bank Edition

  1. Clearly a wonderful, and necessary, enterprise

    Liked by 1 person

  2. dtills says:

    This is an excellent post with respect to food banks, and the holiday season. I have been a long time volunteer at our local food banks, either handing out food or helping prepare meals in the kitchen, and you have summarized the seasonal needs perfectly! Every food bank has this exact wish list! And, just as a reminder, the slow time for donations tends to be right after the beginning of the year. Many folks donate during the holidays, but as you pointed out hunger is year round. Please try to remember to donate in February and the summer months too when the supplies drop again! Great post 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Pingback: Friday Fun: Happy Thanksgiving! | ADD . . . and-so-much-more

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