Thanksgiving 2022: Turkey shortage impacting SoCal food pantries, including West Valley Food Pantry in Woodland Hills

WOODLAND HILLS, Calif. (KABC) — When you visit the West Valley Food Pantry, you hear stories like Eric Flygenring’s.

“We had my wife’s check bounce from work and we also lost some insurance and times got a little tough, so this helps,” he said.

Inflation has made it hard to survive, and this Thanksgiving, some families won’t be able to afford a turkey. Unfortunately, even the food pantry doesn’t have enough.

“The Avian flu that happened reduced the number of turkey’s available,” said Lily Varner, the senior manager of operations for the West Valley Food Pantry. “A lot of the places we used to rely on turkeys didn’t have them. We got half the number we usually get. The cost per pound also went up exorbitantly.”

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the West Valley Food Pantry fed 30 families a day.

During the pandemic, they were feeding 14,000 families a month.

Those numbers went down, but due to inflation, which has led to reduced donations, they’re headed back up.

“The outrageous food prices in the store now, I don’t know how anybody is surviving,” said Tery Sines, who spoke with Eyewitness News on Friday as he waited in line at the food pantry. “It’s a blessing to have them. If we didn’t have them, I don’t know what people would do.”

Former NFL player Malik Jackson, who is from Northridge, volunteered at the food pantry Friday and gave a donation to help the pantry purchase Thanksgiving fixings.

“It means a lot to be able to show these kids what it means to go out there, make some money and then come back, be able to help in the community,” he said. “Passing out food to the people that need it. Allow people to take one less thing off their mind, be able to feed their kids and have those smiles and full bellies because that’s what the holidays are about.”

Right now, the West Valley Food Pantry said they have enough turkeys for large families, but most of their visitors are getting chickens instead. Flygenring’s family was one of the lucky ones.

“It’s great. We have leftovers that can last a week to help with the budget. It’s nice to celebrate the holidays with a turkey and the fixings,” he said.

For more information, visit the West Valley Food Pantry’s website.

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