BOSTON — Some Massachusetts charities and food pantries are giving needy families chickens instead of more expensive Thanksgiving turkeys this year, a move lamented by some, but which they say is necessary to ensure as many people as possible get to enjoy a holiday meal.

The American Farm Bureau Federation says the average price of a 16-pound turkey has jumped from $18 to more than $22 in two years.

Joyce Lonergan, director of the Franciscan Food Center at St. Anthony’s Shrine in downtown Boston, says her mission is to provide as many people as possible with food, and if that means chicken instead of turkey, then so be it.

People picking up food at the shrine tell The Boston Globe that they would prefer turkey, but they understand the decision.