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Turkey inventory is lower than average this holiday season and food banks say they're concerned

Data from the U.S Department of Agriculture shows that frozen turkey inventory is 24 percent lower than normal this year.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Remembering to defrost the turkey for Thanksgiving is not the only challenge people will face — finding them in the first place could be a problem. 

“We're challenged because we have not been able to get turkeys,” Said Elaine Streno, the executive director of Second Harvest Food Bank.

She said that the shortage of some food items is leading to challenging times over the holidays. The shortage is affecting people preparing holiday meals at home and organizations that feed families in need. 

“We haven't been able to get potatoes, no mac and cheese to distribute to our 500 partners in 18 counties,” she said. “We don't know what we're going to be able to get before even Christmas. So we're just hoping for the best on that in that regard."

Data from the U.S Department of Agriculture shows that frozen turkey inventory is 24 percent lower than between 2018 and 2020. 

Of the 500 partners that Second Harvest distributes to, Knox Area Rescue Ministries are one of them. The nonprofit serves people experiencing homelessness in Knoxville, and officials with KARM said they are prepared for the upcoming holiday. 

“Thanks to anticipating some difficulties later in the year, right now we have all of the turkeys and sides we need to serve on Thanksgiving Day,” says Karen Bowdle, KARM's director of public relations.

She said the organization ordered food months ago, but serving meals could be challenging. They are dealing with a shortage of styrofoam cups and plates. 

“So we are just hard-pressed to even find those available on the market right now," she said. "That's the main way that we're struggling with the supply chain crisis.”

Both organizations say the community can help by donating needed items, or by giving money to support the organization.