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With food prices up, Pittsfield Thanksgiving meal giveaway sees unprecedented demand

Food pantries, churches and other organizations are handing out the makings of Thanksgiving meals this week.

With food prices jumping this past year, a pantry in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, said it's seeing unprecedented demand.

The Thanksgiving Angels program operates out of Pittsfield's South Congregational Church.

This year, it's providing 1,800 meals ready to cook. They include a turkey or a chicken, vegetables, cranberry sauce, stuffing and a pie. Milk, cheese and bread are also handed out.

Mary Wheat oversees the program. She's been at it for 11 years and said demand increased again in 2022.

"Every year it goes up, especially since the pandemic," she said.

One of the people in line was Joanie Waybright, who lives in Adams. She said the holiday would be different without the program.

"To me, it would be less variety — a smaller — maybe a chicken or something instead of turkey or just whatever," she said. "I go to the food banks all the time so I eat a lot of vegetables but this is nice."

Ronnie Rocket, of Pittsfield, said the free food is welcome, given that he's paying more for other things.

"It saves up the little bit of money that we do have," he said. "Gas is going up and now the electric is going up. Peter to pay Paul, you know what I mean? So every little bit helps, you know what I'm saying?"

Mary Wheat said food price inflation has not limited what Thanksgiving Angels is able to provide because the local community has been generous with donations.

As for whether she'll be overseeing the effort next year, Wheat said that given she's 89 years old, it may be time for someone else to take over.

Before joining New England Public Media, Alden was a producer for the CBS NEWS program 60 Minutes. In that role, he covered topics ranging from art, music and medicine to business, education and politics.

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