Scratch those turkey orders for colleges that aren’t open. Same with festivals and fairs. And now, pandemic-created smaller family gatherings.
The price is up. And demand for big, fat turkeys is down. But it’s not like farmers can put their plump poultry on a Keto diet.
“The demand for smaller turkeys is there but we couldn’t buy ’em in bulk,” laments Benjamin Buggs, director of Faith Food Fridays, one of three nonprofit benefactors of the Times-Herald’s Community Christmas Card.
Buggs said he went to Raley’s in Benicia to help stock up for Faith Food Friday’s Thanksgiving Turkey Box giveaway this Friday. Not good.
“They had a limit of one turkey, so I had to go through the line 42 times to get 42 turkeys,” said Buggs.
With the fowl price up, affordable meat alternatives have skyrocketed.
Tofurky, which sells 35 different plant-based alternative meat products, reported that sales have increased 40 percent in the last 12 weeks.
Buggs said Faith Food Fridays will stick with the real thing. .
“I tried that Tofurkey stuff. Never again,” he grimaced.
Fortunately, Buggs continued, he was able to snag 300 turkeys, already claimed by pre-registered Faith Food Friday clients.
Last year, Faith Food Fridays distributed 800 turkeys from 826 Solano Ave.
This year “we were limited by the number of turkeys available,” Buggs said. “It used to be, ‘Just show up and you’ll get a turkey.’ This is the first year we had to pre-register.”
Turkeys are symbolic for Americans, said Buggs.
“It’s a comfort zone of families getting together. People have that tradition,” he said.
Beyond Thanksgiving, Buggs said that Solano County’s regression to the COVID-19 “purple tier” of more restrictions puts an increased demand on Faith Food Fridays, with the number of visitors climbing from 1,200 a week to 2,000.
“When they shut it back down, less people are working and our numbers go up,” he said. “The increase in unemployment is a direct correlation to how many come here. We’ve seen record-breaking numbers.”
The Sunday drive-up grows weekly, Buggs continued, with 53 households served last week. In addition to food, Fridays and Tuesdays also offers two long racks of free clothes “that go as fast as they come in.”
In the works is a Faith Food Thursdays in the Glen Cove area, Buggs said.
“We have a lady working on that. We’re trying to expand,” he said.
Though rain swept through Vallejo on Tuesday, it hardly dampened the free food demand, Buggs said.
“Rain’s not going to stop anybody,” he said. “When people are hungry, it doesn’t matter what the weather is.”
More important is the specific week of the month, Buggs said.
“As the month goes on, the numbers goes up. People have ‘more month’ than they have money. The last of the month are the biggest numbers” he said.
With Christmas approaching, some adults may have to decide to forego meals to buy children gifts, Buggs agreed.
“That’s a decision they have to make,” he said. “And some have to decide whether to pay utilities or eat.”
Keeping up with the demand is challenging for Faith Food Fridays, acknowledged Buggs, with the food purchased from the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano.
“And they raised all their prices,” Buggs shrugged.
To contribute online to the Community Christmas Card, visit solanocf.org and click on Vallejo Times-Herald Community Christmas Card Fund. To pay by check, make it out to Solano Community Foundation and send to Doreen Boggs, Times-Herald, 425 Virginia St., Ste. A, Vallejo, 94590. All donors and donations will be published unless anonymity requested. For more information email Richard Freedman, firstname.lastname@example.org.