HOLT, Fla., Nov. 15, 2022—Food pantry recipients will receive the fixings for a turkey meal tomorrow thanks to State Farm and the Rotary Club.
For the fifth straight year, Tiffany Woodham State Farm has partnered with the Rotary Club of Crestview to put together complete turkey dinners for Holt Community Food Pantry recipients. They began the partnership in 2018 with 100 bags the first year doubling that the second and succeeding years.
The meals consist of a frozen turkey, stuffing mix, canned green beans, instant mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie filling and a pie crust.
The challenge this year was getting all the traditional items, something Rotary club member Samma Brannan said was “extremely problematic.”
“You would think that mash potatoes would be the easiest thing to get, but no,” she said.
At one point, pantry volunteers were ready to put recipes for an applesauce pie in the dinner bags because pumpkin pie filling was looking like a no-show. Cans of pumpkin pie filling, arriving just in time, were stuffed into turkey meal bags Wednesday as recipients pulled up to receive their food.
Although both Brannan and Woodham were told from different food distributors that turkeys would be scarce this holiday season, they were able to secure 200 of them for this Thanksgiving.
And the birds are bigger than last year, topping out at 14 pounds.
“Walmart helped us out with that,” Woodham said. This is the second year Walmart assisted with the food drive.
What also made this drive a little more challenging was the increased price of the food items. Complete turkey dinners cost more this year, according to the two women. Turkey was 30 cents per pound more this year than last year coming out to 98 cents per pound, increasing the cost per bag.
“It cost $600 to $700 more to do the same this this year,” said Woodham.
In the past years, they were able to put together turkey dinners for about $20 per bag. This year the cost went up to $22.39 per bag, said Brannan
The pantry gives out the bags 100 at a time during a two-week period. According to pantry manager Jackie Tyler, they gave out the first 95 bags last Wednesday.
That leaves 105 to give out tomorrow.
“The need is definitely there year after year, so we’ll continue doing it,” Woodham said.
Increasing costs aside, Woodham said monetary donations were good this year and State Farm matches the donations she brings in.
Because of that, “we were able to do a little more, match more,” she said. There’s more than $1,500 left over to go toward Christmas meals this year.
“This is the first year since we’ve been doing this that we’ve had extra money to go toward Christmas,” Woodham said.
How to help
There are a number of ways people can support the Holt Community Food Pantry.
Food and monetary donations can be dropped off at the First Baptist Church of Holt. Checks should be annotated that they’re specifically for the pantry.
Tuesdays through Thursdays, donations can be dropped off at the Holt Water Works office between 8 a.m. and noon.
For those living and working outside Holt, donations also can be dropped off at Always Blooming Landscape Services at 958A W. James Lee Blvd., located between Crestview Hardware and Crestview Paint and Body Shop.
Owner Kim Coles said making Always Blooming a drop-off point is something she and her husband have always wanted to do as a way to give back to the community.
“We’re in between everyone and a little more convenient for some,” she said. “I’ve lived in Baker my whole life and have friends in Holt.”