HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - With Thanksgiving only a few weeks away, people may be starting to think about what dishes will be on their holiday menu. However, not all families can afford to buy the traditional turkey and all the fixings, so they turn to local food pantries.
Volunteers at two area food pantries talked about how they avoid being overwhelmed with the holiday need.
In an average month, volunteers at the Long Beach Food Pantry put together bags of food for about 450 families. Pantry officials said that number could have easily skyrocket by Thanksgiving if they didn't put restrictions in place.
Long Beach Food Pantry President Franklin Williams said, "As soon as it gets known that we're giving out turkeys for Christmas or Thanksgiving every Tom, Dick and Harry is going to come. So that is why we sort of limit things to our regular customers."
The Long Beach Food Pantry also limits donations to people living in Long Beach, Pass Christian and the Kiln. Even so, volunteers say they couldn't make it without the support of 15 area churches as well as other organizations.
"We have several food drives. We have the Boy Scouts food drive here in Long Beach this weekend and we'll get about three tons from that drive," said Williams. "The Catholic church in the Kiln just brought in a load that would average out to about 1,500 pounds. Different churches, different organizations are doing this because it's an emphasis on Thanksgiving."
Come Thanksgiving, volunteers at the Pass Christian Food Panty will be passing out food. Pantry officials said they don't take government funding and depend almost entirely on what's given from individuals and faith-based organizations. So not to be overwhelmed, officials said the holiday baskets generally go to the same families each year.
"For holidays like Thanksgiving we have a list that we've made up that we fix Thanksgiving baskets for," said Huey P. Singleton of Pass Christian Food Pantry. "This year, we have 94 baskets that we are going to deliver. Having a Thanksgiving meal or a Christmas meal or a birthday meal and us providing that meal for them kind of completes their day."
The Pass Christian Food Pantry is open from 9 am until noon on Wednesdays and serves people living in the 39571 zip code. The Long Beach Food Pantry is open Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.