The food bank buys its turkeys in July to ensure there are enough to go around, but about 800 more families signed up this year than last year, executive director Robert Coit said.

Share story

The Thurston County Food Bank faces a turkey shortage this week after nearly 4,000 families registered for a free Thanksgiving basket.

The food bank buys its turkeys in July to ensure there are enough to go around, but about 800 more families signed up this year than last year, executive director Robert Coit said.

“I’ve been scrambling to get more,” Coit said of the turkey supply. “It took us a little by surprise.”

Free Thanksgiving meals

• The Thurston County Food Bank will be open from 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Wednesday to distribute more food boxes for the Thanksgiving weekend, but will be closed Thursday and Friday. The food bank is at Thurston Avenue and Washington Street in downtown Olympia. Volunteers and donations are welcome.

• To learn more, email frontdesk@thurstoncountyfoodbank.org or call 360-352-8597.

Some families will get a large chicken instead of a turkey, but their baskets will still come fully stocked with a complete Thanksgiving meal of potatoes, apples, canned vegetables, stuffing mix, squash and ingredients for pumpkin pie along with a pie-crust recipe and instructions for cooking the turkey.

This week is the busiest time of year for the food bank. The cost for each Thanksgiving basket ranges from $30 to $45, depending on household size.

People began lining up several hours before the doors officially opened for the giveaway at 11 a.m. Monday. At that time, the line stretched around the corner, with more than 100 people of all ages, including seniors and young parents with babies. A steady stream of people exited with shopping carts full of food.

One of those recipients was Pierre Gosselin, who praised the food bank for its support beyond just providing a Thanksgiving meal for people in need. Gosselin said the food bank “has kept him going” since he arrived in Olympia two years ago, including a six-month stretch when he was homeless.

“This is beautifully run,” he said of the food bank. “It elevates people, and it doesn’t make people feel like they’re taking a handout.”

Nearly 100 volunteers were expected to help with Monday’s effort. Volunteer coordinator Jen Butti believes in the mission so much that last summer she quit her job as a legal secretary and took a staff position at the food bank.

“Every time I drove by the food bank, I’d point and say, ‘I’m supposed to be going here today,’ ” Butti said in between loading food into carts Monday morning. “There’s so much love in this place.”

Those who missed Monday’s distribution will be able to get a basket Wednesday.