Food pantries meeting high demand

With demand for food assistance remaining high, local food pantries and service providers say they have seen increased demand in the days leading up to Thanksgiving.

"When our pantry manager told us last week we had given out 120 Thanksgiving baskets already, I was just stunned," said Barbara Howell, executive director of the Burbank Temporary Aid Center. "I just know what's going to be coming this week. It's been overwhelming."

With only a handful of turkeys remaining last week, Howell said she was nervous they would not be able to meet the expected demand. But by the end of Thursday, she had received an additional 250 donated turkeys.

"Our freezers and refrigerators are pretty full," she said. "This will get us through the next three days. Right now, I'm feeling relieved for Thanksgiving, but we have to now try to get enough for Christmas."

Representatives from several Glendale food pantries say they have been less lucky and have received few turkey donations, a problem reported in recent weeks by charities across the country.

"We've had quite a few people asking for turkeys," said Rick White, director of social services for Salvation Army Glendale.

So far, Loaves and Fishes, a food bank in south Glendale operated by Catholic Charities of Los Angeles Inc., has seen only one turkey donated, said program coordinator Lora Young.

Some experts have attributed the drop in turkey donations to rising food prices and regular donors having to cut back during bad economic times.

"I think it's pretty much the same all over," Young said. "People are hurting."

White added that the Salvation Army food pantry has seen below-average donations of nonperishable food products so far this season, which makes it hard to meet the staggering demand.

Still, thanks to donations organized by state Sen. Carol Liu's office and Salvation Army board members, the organization is preparing to serve as many as 300 people at this year's annual Thanksgiving dinner, White said.

Volunteers served about 200 plates at last year's event, he said, adding that officials this year are expecting more people to attend because of the economy.

"Everybody is welcome," he said.

Also in Glendale, dozens of schoolchildren will hand out a free turkey meal Thursday at Salem Lutheran Church and School, which saw hundreds of people attend their first Thanksgiving event last year.

At Path Achieve Glendale, the city's main homeless services provider, officials said the generosity of volunteers has helped the nonprofit meet demand.

"So far we have been extremely fortunate," said Executive Director Natalie Profant Komuro. "We have had a lot of very generous volunteers preparing groceries and cooked meals for the people we are serving. That's been a huge relief because our cash is a little tight right now."

Officials are now preparing to help provide a Thanksgiving meal for the shelter's 40 residents, as well as some of the 60 clients living in transitional housing, she said.

"During the holidays we have seen some very special things happen where clients will cook for each other," she said.


Salvation Army Glendale


noon to 2 p.m.

320 W. Windsor Road, Glendale

Salem Lutheran Church and School



1211 N. Brand Blvd., Glendale

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