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Good grief, gobblers gone

by BILL BULEY
Staff Writer | November 19, 2010 8:00 PM

COEUR d'ALENE - Let's talk turkey.

Turkeys, actually, would be better.

Because the Community Action Partnership food bank is all out of the birds that are the main course come Thanksgiving day.

That means about 1,500 families that turned to the food bank for help this year didn't get one.

"We have none, zero, zip," said Carolyn Shewfelt, food bank manager. "We've given out what we have."

When the food bank opened its doors at 9 a.m. Wednesday, the line snaked around the building in the Industrial Park. All told, they served 833 families in six hours.

On Thursday, despite snow, rain and cold, the line again stretched out and another 350 boxes of food, complete with turkeys, were handed out, and then more food boxes, sans the turkey.

There are still about 1,300 names on the list of those who signed up to receive a food box, and another 100 on a "back up list" of people who didn't sign up in time but are hoping to get help, anyway.

"We still have people signing up," Shewfelt said.

And there is time to contribute.

Donations of turkeys and food including cranberry sauce, vegetables, yams and other Thanksgiving day favorites can be dropped off at the food bank, 4144 W. Industrial Loop, until 4 p.m. today and Monday.

As turkeys come in, the food bank will call people on its waiting list.

"We'll give them turkeys," said Shewfelt. "We're going to give them out as long as we have them."

Requests for assistance have risen in recent years. In 2008, the CAP food bank helped 825 people. Last year, it provided 1,725 food baskets. This year, around 2,600 signed up for assistance.

"It's another huge jump again," Shewfelt said. "It's kind of a surprise to us all."

Adding to the challenge, donations are down as the economy continues to sputter.

Bottomline: More families will have to do without Tom Turkey on the Thanksgiving table.

"Last year, we had people backing up with pickup loads of turkeys," she said. "I'm not seeing what we saw last year."

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