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Give Thanks Campaign To Feed Families On Thanksgiving

Midwest Food Bank
Eric Stock
Matt Burgess, left, of Home Sweet Home Ministries and Mike Hoffman of Midwest Food Bank held a news conference at the food bank to announce the launch of the annual Give Thanks campaign.

Many families are still struggling to make ends meet, even with shrinking unemployment. That's according to organizers for the annual Give Thanks campaign that aims to keep families from going hungry on Thanksgiving.  

Midwest Food Bank of Normal and Home Sweet Home Ministries of Bloomington are asking the public to buy turkey cards and prepackaged food bags at Hy-Vee and Schnucks to feed up to 2,500 families this Thanksgiving. The turkeys cost $15 and the food bags cost $10.

Midwest Food Bank Director Mike Hoffman said the need continues to grow.

“The vast majority—and I mean way more than 60 or 70 percent of the people that we serve and that our food pantries serve—are the people who are employed and are working two or three jobs and just can’t quite make it through,” Hoffman said.

Hoffman recalled on the night of an earlier turkey distribution a woman knocked on the food bank doors after all the lights had been turned off and everyone had gone home.

She told him she missed the distribution because she works two jobs as a single mother of two boys. She said her sons asked her that morning, “Mom are we going to have a Thanksgiving dinner this year?”

“She said, ‘I’ll try to pick up a chicken somewhere but that’s all we are going to get,’” Hoffman said. “That’s the type of people we are helping."

Home Sweet Home Chief Operation Officer Matt Burgess said many families are trying to get by on part-time, seasonal and low-wage jobs. 

“Minimum wage employment is not sufficient for people to really be sustainable on their own and that’s who we see come out to things like this,” Burgess said. “It’s people who are trying to provide for their families, but even through that effort they need a little bit of help.

“That’s what we are here to do.”

Burgess said in the decade he's been with Home Sweet Home, the demand for Thanksgiving turkeys has more than quadrupled.

Turkeys will be distributed at Midwest Food Bank, 2031 Warehouse Rd., Normal, on Nov. 17 and Nov. 19, the Saturday and Monday before Thanksgiving.

Home Sweet Home will also be serving Thanksgiving dinner for an estimated 600 to 750 people at its shelter at 303 E. Oakland Ave. and delivering meals for the elderly and shut-ins.

Burgess said Home Sweet Home needs up to 150 volunteers on Thanksgiving Day.

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Eric Stock is the News Director at WGLT. You can contact Eric at ejstoc1@ilstu.edu.
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