BOSTON (CBS) – From Boston to Lawrence food pantries are working feverishly to get ready to serve families in need this Thanksgiving. And this year, more than ever, it’s a heavy lift.

Organizers say the escalating food prices and the increase of families in need of assistance are squeezing pantries to the limit.

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“We could always use more turkeys because the families are greater,” Sharon Curry of the American Red Cross Food Pantry said. The food pantry is locked and loaded to serve more than 3000 households this weekend but they’re also in need of more volunteers and monetary donations. “We are just squeaking by because the capacity is so great,” Jill Tobacco said.

Liset Garcia runs the Food Pantry at Lazarus House Ministries in Lawrence. “The demand is incredible. We are seeing numbers we’ve never seen before. Since the pandemic the numbers have quadrupled the number of families we are serving,” Garcia said.

Their shelves are half full right now because of the high demand. “We have a lot of people calling ahead of time asking what we are doing for Thanksgiving,” Miguel Cruz said.

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Folks like Paul Armstrong who has no plans this Thanksgiving are completely depending on Lazurus Ministries to come through. “This is one of the places that’s closest to where I am and it’s unfortunate to hear they are struggling to keep up with the demand because it’s so important to us,” Armstrong said.

This Thanksgiving Lazarus House will serve 1800 families from their food pantry. “We are getting so many more people than food we are getting in. Normally we have food from ceiling to floor and now some days it’s like oh my God please guide us,”
Garcia said.

And to help alleviate some of the pressure both Lazarus House and the Red Cross will also be handing out gift cards to families to shop in advance.

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To donate, visit Lazarus House Ministries’ website.

Paul Burton