The Thanksgiving Holiday has come and gone, but not without a flurry of excitement at the FISH Food Pantry and Walk-In Center. As in years past, FISH distributed bags of stuffing, rolls, fresh and canned vegetables, pies and a gift card to purchase a holiday protein for the Thanksgiving holiday.
While FISH anticipated increased requests mainly due to COVID lost work hours and job loss, they did not expect the last-minute burst of assistance requests. “It started with increased usage of the Food Pantry the week before Thanksgiving,” stated Maria Espinoza, Food Program Director for FISH. With the Pantry shelves low on essentials, FISH volunteers made two ‘emergency’ grocery pick-ups at local markets just before the holiday.
“When the week of Thanksgiving rolled around, we realized additional supplies for our Holiday Program would also be necessary,” continues Espinoza. “Many clients with holiday plans outside their own homes changed their minds, leaving them without meal supplies. Others, who serve at local restaurants on the holiday, learned they wouldn’t be needed due to lower than usual reservations. And some learned that their family would not be visiting, leaving them alone and searching for a meal for one or two.” FISH staff and volunteers worked around the clock Nov. 23-26 to make sure everyone would enjoy a meal for the holiday.
In all, FISH provided meals for 634 neighbors in need this Thanksgiving through food baskets, gift cards, and prepared meals in their Meals-by-FISH program prepared by Bailey’s General Store. Using COVID-19 precautionary measures such as facemasks, hand sanitizing and social distancing, volunteers and staff assembled baskets at the FISH Walk-in Center. FISH volunteers delivered meals by car, bike, and on foot through Thanksgiving morning.
“Our community came together to help hundreds of families have a happy Thanksgiving with full tables. We’re so grateful to our community and their generous spirits for making sure every request for a holiday meal was met this year,” said Alicia Tighe Orgera, Executive Director, FISH.
Partners for the Thanksgiving Food Basket program included Bailey’s General Store, who generously donated the bags for the program; Saint Michael & All Angels Episcopal Church, who donated pies to the baskets; The Great White Grill, who donated turkeys; Friends Who Care, who donated gift cards; community members who donated resources and FISH volunteers, who donated time, energy and effort.
With the Christmas holiday right around the corner, FISH anticipates another surge in requests for food baskets and increased pantry usage. “We will provide Food Baskets for Christmas to those needing a hand up. With such uncertainty, it warms my heart to know that we can help,” says Maria Espinoza Food Program Director for FISH.
If you or a family you know needs a Christmas Holiday Food Basket, please contact Maria Espinoza at 239-472-4775.