Thanksgiving for all?

Topics: 

A news item that caught my ear recently was the widely distributed coverage of the American Farm Bureau Federation’s annual estimate of the price of a classic holiday meal for 10 people.  How much is that turkey dinner with all the fixings going to cost you this year?  Almost $50.  That’s still a great deal when you think about it, but according to the Federation, that’s an increase of 13% over last year’s price.  Same meal.  Same amount of food.  But this year I need to come up with 13% more money to put it on the table due to the rising costs of food and fuel.

Thankfully, my family is going to be okay this year.  Like many others, we’re cutting back in some areas, but we’re planning on enjoying a Thanksgiving meal with our friends and family tomorrow.

But there are plenty of folks who’ve been hit especially hard by the economy, and they’re having trouble coming up with that extra 13%.  In fact, with almost one in five people in Georgia living at or below the poverty line, there are a lot of people having trouble coming up with more than just a little extra cash for turkey this year.

And these are people we know. They are people like us.  People who want to gather around a table and share the fellowship of food, family and friends just like the rest of us.  But this year they’ve lost some of their monthly household income because their spouse got laid off; they’re digging into their savings to make ends meet each month; they’re already having trouble paying their mortgage, paying the utility bills, and paying for healthcare needs every month.  Where are they going to find that extra money for turkey and dressing this year?

The tragedy, of course, is that this is the reality for so many right now – it’s not just the classic Thanksgiving meal that they’re struggling to afford, but it’s multiple meals every month of the year that are becoming harder to put on the table. As a result, more and more of these individuals and families are turning to our network of emergency food providers to help make ends meet.  We’re going to help a lot of them enjoy a Thanksgiving meal, either at home thanks to our food pantry partners or at one of our many community kitchen partners that will be serving up all the fixings to folks who couldn’t quite get there on their own.  And because hunger isn’t seasonal, we’ll be there next week as well, and all the weeks that follow.

But we can’t do it on our own.  Community is embedded in our name, and it’s rooted just as deeply in the way we work to serve our neighbors who need assistance.  We’re successful because there is a community of concern in Metro Atlanta and North Georgia that is unwilling to sit idly by while people go hungry.  If you’ve already been through the check-out line for your Thanksgiving items, you likely experienced a bit of sticker shock.  The reality is that it’s costing more and more to feed our families and our neighbors than ever before.  As so many of us join together tomorrow to share a meal with friends and family, I encourage you to take this opportunity to help us extend a meal to someone in your community who might need a little more help than usual this year.

Happy Thanksgiving!

--Jon West
Agency Study Coordinator