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Harry Chapin Food Bank distributing gift cards, not turkeys this Thanksgiving

This Thanksgiving is going to be anything but traditional. And with so many families in need this holiday season, the Harry Chapin Food Bank is changing how it will be helping them.

Starting next week, Harry Chapin is distributing gift cards to families in need to help supply them with Thanksgiving meals. The gift cards will be distributed through the organization’s “Partner Agency Program,” which is a network of 150 partner organizations in areas the food bank serves. To find locations those partner agencies, visit the food banks food locator page.

Richard Leber, CEO of the Harry Chapin Food Bank, says gift cards allow families to pick out their perfect Thanksgiving meal.

“It may not have the same emotional appeal as giving someone a turkey, but in some ways, actually, they’re a lot better,” Leber said. “They’re much easier to distribute, they’re much easier to store and they’re more flexible for the folks that get them, because let’s face it, if you are a small family you might not eat a whole turkey, or maybe that isn’t your holiday tradition or your culinary tradition.”

Leber says the demand for food will remain strong through the holidays and into next year.

One mother from Immokalee, Laura Lopez, has received food from Pathways, a partner of Harry Chapin, for the last year. Last Thanksgiving, she didn’t have a job, meaning her family of four relied on only her husband’s income.

Lopez received a turkey from Harry Chapin, taking the stress out of preparing a holiday meal. She says she’s thankful Harry Chapin is still finding a way to help families like hers, even if turkeys won’t be handed out this year.

“I think it helps financially, and not just that—we know that there’s someone out there that cares about us, not just, ‘Oh, they need to learn how to survive on their own,'” Lopez said. “No, there’s other people that can help us with resources that we need.”

If you want to help families like Laura Lopez’s, you can volunteer at one of several food pantries or you can make a donation to the Harry Chapin Food Bank.

The gift cards are being distributed through the organization’s “Partner Agency Program,” which is a network of 150 partner organizations in the areas the food bank serves. To find locations of those partner agencies, visit the food bank’s food locator page.

Reporter:Janae Muchmore
Writer:Joey Pellegrino
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