500 Mat-Su families receive free Thanksgiving meal box

500 Mat-Su families receive free Thanksgiving meal box
Published: Nov. 19, 2023 at 11:26 AM AKST
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PALMER, Alaska (KTUU) - A total of 500 turkey Thanksgiving boxes were passed out to families in need at the Real Life Church in Palmer on Saturday during the annual Thanksgiving Blessing event.

The Food Bank of Alaska event, which takes place across numerous locations, fed over 9,500 families last year. The food bank said it expects to feed over 12,000 families this year between blessing events in the Matanuska-Susitna Valley and Anchorage.

The Salvation Army, one of the Food Bank of Alaska’s partners at the event, said it has seen a growth in food insecurity in the Valley since the pandemic.

“The need is not reducing. Economic times are tough right now,” said Maj. Kevin Bottjen with the Salvation Army Mat-Su Valley Corps. “Pre-COVID, we were doing about 30 families a month out of our food pantry, now we’re doing about 90 a week.”

During the event, families walked around the church and filled a box full of all the items they would need to make a traditional Thanksgiving meal. Donated goods included stuffing, butter, apples, and even a 14-plus pound turkey.

“Without it, we wouldn’t get a very good Thanksgiving so this helps out a lot with my family,” said Brandy Talcott, a Palmer resident receiving a box on Saturday. “It takes kind of the stress off your back about having to try and figure out how to get [a meal].”

On Monday, numerous facilities around Anchorage will also host blessing events, where families can also go to pick up food for Thanksgiving.

The Salvation Army is also advising families who are interested in receiving Christmas food or toys to contact their location Salvation Army to get signed up.

To learn more about holiday resources for individuals and families in need, click here.