Food pantry volunteers Joanie Mitchell, Barbra Dolan and Linda Hornback of Bowdoinham process Thanksgiving food donations and pack boxes to deliver to homebound residents. Photo contributed by Jennifer Stonebraker

In preparation for Thanksgiving, Bowdoinham Food Pantry volunteers on Wednesday unloaded large quantities of donated and purchased food along with more than 60 turkeys to give away to residents in need.

Food pantry Director Jennifer Stonebraker said it takes many hours of planning and preparation to “make Thanksgiving special for our neighbors.” She said over 55 families registered for a turkey this year, but the pantry expects to give away as many as 70 in the days leading up to Thanksgiving.

“For weeks now, we have been stockpiling canned and dry goods that are popular — stuffing mix, gravy, canned pumpkin, cranberry sauce, etc.,” Stonebreaker said. “We’ve been anxiously waiting for the price of turkeys to drop. Luckily for us, it happened last week, and we were able to score a great deal on a whole bunch of birds.”

Frozen turkeys are ready for distribution. Photo contributed by Jennifer Stonebraker

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the average cost of a 16-pound turkey this year is $27, a $10 increase from last year.

Nearly 140,000 Mainers, including 40,000 children, are facing food insecurity, according to feedingamerica.org.

Last month, the Bowdoinham Food Pantry served 68 households, a 70% increase compared to the 40 families served this time last year. Increased food insecurity has become a statewide trend this year.

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Food pantries in Biddeford, Bridgton, York County and South Portland all reported an increase of 50% or greater in the number of families utilizing their services this year. However, food pantries face their own difficulties with rising food costs.

The Preble Street food security hub in South Portland reported a 30% rise in food costs this year compared to 2021, according to a Monday article in the Portland Press Herald.

Stonebraker said the Bowdoinham Food Pantry is still collecting donations and has a wish list that includes eggs, butter, premade pie crust, canned pumpkin, white and brown sugar, flour, cooking oil, turkey seasoning, condensed milk, sour cream, cream, stuffing mix, canned gravy, and cranberry sauce.

Those wishing to donate can drop off fresh or canned food items at the Bowdoinham Farmers Thanksgiving Market from 8:30 a.m. to noon Saturday, Nov. 19, at the Waterfront Park.

For more information, email Stonebraker at [email protected]

The shelves of the food pantry are filled with holiday meal items. Photo contributed by Jennifer Stonebraker

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