For the first time this holiday season, organizers at the Fairbanks Community Food Bank are hopeful they will meet their Thanksgiving donation goals.

“The food has finally arrived in town, and it’s coming to the food bank as we need it to and that is such a blessing,” Fairbanks Community Food Bank CEO Anne Weaver said. “We’re going into the weekend actually having hope, which we didn’t have this time last week.”

The food bank typically provides 2,500 free Thanksgiving meals to residents in need — which include canned goods, a turkey and a frozen pie — but supply chain issues and rising food costs have impacted donations. Last weekend, the agency was short nearly 1,000 units of each food item and had only received 50% of donations expected in a typical holiday season. This week however, hope was restored.

“We looked at the supply chain issues and said, you know what, if the food arrives, this community is going to bring it in,” Weaver said. “It didn’t arrive a month ago. It didn’t arrive three weeks ago. It just started to hit grocery store shelves. I looked at our crew and said, ‘Brace yourself.’ This is going to be an incredible 10-day countdown to Thanksgiving. And that is exactly what has been.”

“We have a ways to go, but I think we’re gonna hit our goals,” she added.

The food bank will be collecting food at Costco and Fred Meyer West and East this weekend during its annual holiday food drive. The food bank is in need of turkeys, frozen pies and canned cranberry sauce and yams, Weaver said.

“If those go as they have in the past, then we’re going to be able to meet our plan of 2,500 households,” she said.

“The community has seen the issues with the supply chain and has been bound and determined to take care of their neighbors,” she continued. “One thing about Interior Alaska that isn’t like any place else in the world it seems like, is the determination for a neighbor to help a neighbor.”

The Fairbanks Community Food Bank’s free Thanksgiving meal boxes will be distributed at First Presbyterian Church, 547 Seventh Ave., from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 24, and at Lord of Life Lutheran Church, 1005 St. Nicholas Drive in North Pole, from noon to 2 p.m. Registration is not required, and it’s on a first-come-first-serve basis.

Meal boxes will also be distributed Wednesday at Journey Christian Church, 1201 Hoselton Road in Fairbanks. This location requires individuals to register for a free meal in advance. For more information, contact 907-455-4433.

There are a variety of other organizations across Fairbanks offering free Thanksgiving meals to those in need.

Bobby’s Downtown

In conjunction with the Stone Soup Cafe, Bobby’s will offer boxed lunches to those in need from 1:30-4:30 p.m. on Thanksgiving at its restaurant located at 723 27th Ave. For more information call 907-456-3222.

Gold Hill Express

Gold Hill Express will offer a free meal to anyone in need from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day at its restaurant located at 3040 Parks Hwy. For more information call 907-474-1091

Fairbanks Rescue Mission

Fairbanks Rescue Mission will provide a boxed lunch to anyone in need on Thanksgiving Day at its facility located 723 27th Ave. For more information call 907-452-5343

Contact Liv Clifford at 459-7582, lclifford@newsminer.com or follow her at twitter.com/FDNMcrime.

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