With Thanksgiving just days away and donations down, local food pantries are scrambling to fill the shelves to feed thousands of needy families.
A protracted recession has forced some organizations that typically provide a bounty of holiday supplies to the local food pantries to cut back on their donations.
"We have less food than we have ever had this time of year," said Rick White, director of social services and volunteer coordinator for the Salvation Army Glendale. "I have never seen the food pantry this low."
Lora Young — coordinator for Loaves & Fishes in Glendale — said she juggled calls on Thursday hoping organizations had good news about additional food donations for Thanksgiving.
As of Friday, the food bank had received just three turkeys, stoking Young's fears that frozen turkey donations wouldn't pour in until Wednesday, likely leaving families without a bird for Thanksgiving.
With 1,000 clients and more than 400 households relying on the pantry — which is operated by Catholic Charities of Los Angeles Inc.— Young said there was an added urgency to replenish the food shelves.
"We are struggling to feed people," she said.
The nonprofit food banks, including Burbank Temporary Aid Center and Salvation Army of Burbank, also benefit from food drives organized by other groups during the holidays.
But this year, donations at the food drives have dropped because most people are just trying to stay afloat during the recession, said Barbara Howell, executive director of Burbank Temporary Aid Center.
"We still have a great need," she said. "It's just an unfortunate situation."
To offset fewer donations, Howell said more groups have been organizing food drives to feed the center's 1,000 to 2,000 client households.
But even if last-minute donations come through for the holidays, many local pantries typically depend on those returns to last into the next year, which means supplies could be scarce for the rest of the year.
The Salvation Army Glendale food pantry has about 66% less than it should for this time of year, which White said means the organization may not have enough goods to last through Christmas.
"We understand things are tough for everyone, but the need is high," he said.
Salvation Army Glendale feeds about 1,200 people per month, while its counterpart in Burbank supplies food to 400 families.
While meal donations have been low at the Salvation Army in Burbank, the quality of food is better than past years, Lt. Kari Rudd said.
The organization, she said, mostly supplies food to seniors, immigrant families and clients who recently became homeless or saw their household income drop because they lost jobs.
"We are doing the best we can," Rudd said.
The following local food pantries are accepting food donations, including items for a Thanksgiving meal, canned vegetables, pastas, cereals and tuna.
—Salvation Army Glendale: 801 S. Central Ave. To donate, call (818) 246-5586.
—Salvation Army Burbank: 300 E. Angeleno Ave. To help, call (818) 845-7214.
—Catholic Charities Loaves & Fishes: 4322 San Fernando Road in Glendale. They can be reached at (818) 409-3080.
—Burbank Temporary Aid Center: 1304 W. Burbank Blvd. To donate, call (818) 848-2822.