FELLSMERE — This year’s turkey giveaway at Operation Hope has encountered an unexpected problem — a shortage of available turkeys to purchase in bulk.
So far, Operspantion Hope has only been able to purchase about half the usual number of turkeys it distributes annually at its Thanksgiving food giveaway.
This year’s is Saturday, Nov. 19 at 10 a.m.
“Everywhere I call, I hear the same story,” said Jesse Zermeno, Operation Hope’s president. “The stores are telling me even they’ve had trouble fulfilling their orders to make sure their own customers have a turkey this year.”
Although Zermeno said he expected to pay more for turkeys, he didn’t think he’d have such a hard time getting the 500 turkeys his organization gives away each year to families in need.
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That’s led him to offer a new Thanksgiving item this year that seems more readily available — ham.
“People will be able to choose either a turkey or ham this year,” said Zermeno. “At least, there will be another option if we run out of turkeys really early.”
One local Publix store has been able to help Zermeno with a bulk order of turkeys, but his usual sources are coming up short this year. So Zermeno is asking the local community to consider purchasing a turkey or two and dropping it by Operation Hope before the Saturday giveaway.
“Every donated turkey will be gobbled up by a family in need,” said Zermeno.
In addition to a turkey or ham, families will receive vegetables, fruit, stuffing and desserts to round out the holiday table, he said.
“At Thanksgiving, we want to extend help and hope to as many families in the community as possible,” said Zermeno. “With everyone’s help, we can make sure families who need help the most will receive it.”
Like last year, families can stay in their cars and food baskets will be loaded by volunteers, to keep appropriate social distancing during the pandemic.
Indian River County Sheriff Eric Flowers is scheduled to help load the food into cars with the help of volunteers from local community organizations.
Zermeno, who started the turkey giveaway more than a decade ago, said more and more people are having trouble feeding their families because of rising food prices and are turning to food pantries for assistance.
“More people are hungry now than ever before,” said Zermeno. “And we want to help as many people as we can have a nice Thanksgiving.”
How you can help
- Along with the turkeys, Operation Hope is looking for donations of canned vegetables, potatoes, cranberry sauce, gravy mix and stuffing.
- Donations can be brought to Operation Hope, 12285 County Road 512 in Fellsmere through Nov. 19 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The turkey giveaway starts at 10 a.m. Nov. 19.
- For more information about donating, call (321) 403-2604.