The Arlington Community Food Bank provided turkeys and holiday dinners again this year during five late November dates.
This year they served about 600 households.
“We provide turkeys with all the trimmings,” said Carla Gastineau, Arlington Community Food Bank director.
They also provide traditional Thanksgiving food items and additional produce for the holiday.
“It helps restore that sense of normalcy, especially when we’re facing those extra challenges such as the pandemic,” said Gastineau. “Giving people a sense of togetherness and family time."
Volunteers said they enjoyed coming out to help families in need.
“I just like serving my community,” said volunteer Jamie Kinney. “It just feels rewarding."
“It just feels good to help the community. We’ve been Arlington people for a long time,” said volunteer Ryan Willis.
Overall, 2021 has been more up and down for the local food bank.
“It’s been a lot more unpredictable this year,” said Gastineau. “Use of the food bank really tapered off when we started seeing the stimulus checks and the Child Tax Credit payments coming in."
Other food banks in the county also reported numbers dropping at that time, however demand was still higher than it was pre-pandemic, said Gastineau.
Since late summer that downward trend started reversing however.
“We’re seeing a little bit of an increase from earlier this year,” said Gastineau. “We’ve started seeing about a 20 percent increase in recent weeks."
That trend continued throughout the Thanksgiving dinner distribution dates, she said.
Gastineau said inflation, especially for grocery store staple items, could be driving some of that demand increase.
“Now in the food bank we’re seeing families that haven’t been affected by job loss or something like that, just the inflation,” she said. “I’m not sure where that trend is going to take us."
Gastineau encourages local families “not to be too proud to use us as a resource if they need it.”
Sometimes individuals worry that the food bank will not have enough food to meet demand, but the food bank is not in danger of food shortages right now.
“There is enough food for everybody,” she said.
Those who want to help can find donation links at arlingtonfoodbank.org.
“We continue to ask that people donate funds instead of food,” said Gastineau.
Gastineau also wanted to thank partners, such as the Stillaguamish Tribe, who have supported the local food bank a lot throughout the COVID pandemic.