In a typical year, the Englewood-based Center for Food Action (CFA) distributes more than 3,000 Thanksgiving packages to local families facing the holiday without a meal. But this is anything but a typical year.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, during which CFA was focused on getting food to families without basic necessities like power or heat, the food pantry’s annual Thanksgiving distribution was not a priority, and now it’s in serious jeopardy.
Because of the storm, people weren’t donating to the Thanksgiving cause, and with distribution set to begin Friday, the CFA is an estimated 1,000 to 1,200 turkeys short, according to a spokesperson.
“We’re looking for a miracle because the storm has overshadowed Thanksgiving, and understandably so,” said Jennifer Johnson-Rothman of CFA. “But Thanksgiving is still an important holiday.”
Johnson-Rothman said CFA just turned its attention to Thanksgiving this week, and that the food pantry wasn’t even soliciting donations because they were simply too busy helping their clients through an emergency.
“We’re really in a tough spot right now,” she said. “We’re just hoping that those that can help will so that local residents in Bergen County can still have Thanksgiving, even though they’ve lost so many other things.”
Last year CFA distributed about 3,400 Thanksgiving packages, but Johnson-Rothman said she doesn’t think they’ll even come close to 2,000 this year if they’re even “lucky enough to get that.”
“The good news is that most people have had their power restored except for, I think, down in Little Ferry and Moonachie; I know there’s a lot of dinners that are being arranged for that group,” she said. “But many folks up here in this area have also suffered enormously.”
CFA’s website, which has a section dedicated to its 2012 Thanksgiving program, lists several ways people can help, including donating by phone by calling 201-569-1804, ext. 25; donating online; or hosting a food drive.
The website also has a list of “most needed items,” which for Thanksgiving specifically includes hearty soups, canned vegetables, canned yams, instant gravy, instant potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce, pasta and pasta sauce, 100 percent juice and canned fruit.
But when it comes to putting together Thanksgiving packages, Johnson-Rothman said, “The others are needed too, but it really boils down to having the turkeys.” “We’re collecting turkeys; we’re searching for turkeys,” she said. “That’s the most important part of a Thanksgiving meal.”
She added, “If people don’t want to lug around a frozen turkey, just give us a supermarket gift card; we’re going to go out and purchase them.”
Thanksgiving food donations can be made in person to the CFA’s Englewood, Mahwah or Saddle Brook locations.
The Center for Food Action in Englewood is located at 192 West Demarest Ave.