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Groups announce Thanksgiving food distributions in Scranton

Newswatch 16's Courtney Harrison says organizers expect to serve more Lackawanna County families this year.

SCRANTON, Pa. — For more than 45 years, Friends of the Poor in Scranton has dished out thousands of meals for its annual Thanksgiving community dinner. During the pandemic, the dinner was done as a takeout and drive-thru service.

Organizers say they wanted to keep people healthy for the holiday and continue the program takeout style for one more year.

"We have to start planning this so far in advance that you can't make an accurate prediction, and we would rather be safe than chance anybody's health or safety," said Meghan Loftus, president and CEO of Friends of the Poor.

There are a few challenges with parking for the event in November, so there will be a few road closures during both the dinner and the Family to Family food basket program.

"We will stage cars on all of those blocks and have traffic volunteers who are directing people. We will try to load four or five cars at a time with the meals and get people through as quickly as possible."

The biggest challenges organizers face are food costs and supply issues. Each event feeds about 3,500 people, and that adds up fast.

The Friends of the Poor dinner is expected to double its budget from last year.

The Family to Family food basket program is also worried about its budget to make sure they had all the trimmings for a holiday meal.

"Two years ago, we were able to get our turkeys at 90 cents a pound, and now they're $2.90 a pound, and we get 14-to-16-pound turkeys for every family. So we're looking our goal this year is to raise over $200,000," said Linda Robeson, head of the Family to Family food basket program.

The event may be costly, but organizers say it always tends to come together in the end because of the kindness of those who help and the stories they share.

"People who have come to us for dinners, and then when their circumstances change and stuff, they're coming back as volunteers," Robeson said. "It kind of comes full circle."

The Thanksgiving dinner meals will be given out on November 22, followed by the Family to Family meal baskets on November 23.

RELATED: Feed A Friend: Here's how you can donate to help your neighbors in need this Thanksgiving

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