Breaking News
More () »

Food banks need increased support during Thanksgiving

Food banks across our area say the need for help continues to increase.

FORT SMITH, Ark. — On Thanksgiving next week, a lot of people may not get to have a Thanksgiving meal without help from our local food banks.

The River Valley Regional Food Bank serves eight counties through 170 partner agencies. Director Tracy Engel says they are seeing a 30% increase in the need for assistance this Thanksgiving season compared to last year.

“The turkeys are double the price per pound what they were last year and a lot of families just don’t have that money in their budget, so they rely on these pantries to be able to go there and get their Thanksgiving meal this year,” Engel said.

At the Northwest Arkansas Food Bank, President and CEO Kent Eikenberry says they've been working on preparations for Thanksgiving for the past six weeks. They’ve already given out more than 7,000 turkeys, but he says they have only seen the need increasing.

“There are a lot of people that are in the charity food system for the first time this year," Eikenberry said. "Covid —or more recently inflation— has caused people who are living on the edge to not have enough money to get by.” 

Speaking of inflation, Eikenberry says in 2021 they spent about $2.5 million on food and this year they are on pace to spend close to $3.5 million. He says they are able to help, thanks to a supportive community.

“A hungry student is not a good student, they don’t learn. A hungry employee is not a good employee. Absenteeism is higher for those people who are food insecure, so the community has stepped up, and know that it’s the economic impact on a community to help neighbors in need,” he said.

Both food banks say the need isn’t just around the holidays, but all year long.

“It’s always a good feeling to know you are helping someone in need, but especially at the holidays, you don’t want anyone to have Thanksgiving without being able to sit down and have that meal. I mean that’s what it’s all about, being thankful. We’re just thankful that we’re here to be able to help the community.” said Engel.

If you want to help those in need, you can donate directly to each food bank. One dollar can provide 10 meals to those in need.

RELATED: Inflation in Arkansas increases food insecurity for families

RELATED: Arkansas food bank bringing awareness to food insecurity

Follow 5NEWS on social media: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | YouTube

Download the 5NEWS app on your smartphone:

Stream 5NEWS 24/7 on the 5+ app: How to watch the 5+ app on your streaming device

To report a typo or grammatical error, please email KFSMDigitalTeam@tegna.com and detail which story you're referring to.

Before You Leave, Check This Out