By Beth Germano, WBZ-TVBy Beth Germano

FRAMINGHAM (CBS) – It’s one of the most highly anticipated deliveries of the year, the turkeys at Pearl Street Cupboard and Café in Framingham. But three days before Thanksgiving, the food pantry is coming up short of turkeys for everyone who walks through the door.

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It’s the first time Criseida Hernandez has asked for one. “It’s a little hard because I’ve been able to get one myself without going any place to ask for it. But I’ve been unemployed for the last year,” she said.

It’s the busiest time of year for food distribution and at Pearl Street, requests for help are up 400 percent over last year. “These are folks you wouldn’t normally expect to be needing help, on top of those always in need, it’s a big group and a big deal,” said Paul Mina president of United Way Tri-County, which runs the food pantry.

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Not only is demand up, but the organization is seeing an increase in people using their services for the first time. That includes Danielle, who arrived at the pantry with her seven month old son hoping for a turkey. “I’ve never been through something like this, going through food pantries. I’ve been able to take care of myself but right now it’s hard,” she said.

United Way Tri-County has launched a “Feed-A-Family For Fifty” campaign with a goal of providing over three thousand turkeys between now and Christmas. Mina says they are only a quarter of the way toward their goal. Donations of $50 will provide a holiday meal for a family of four. “Most people don’t think that a Thanksgiving meal over the holiday is a luxury. But for the families we serve it is,” said Mina.

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Donations can be made at

Beth Germano