As Thanksgiving Approaches Many Universities are Giving Back to Those Suffering from Food Insecurity

The spirit of Thanksgiving is vibrating this month among many communities in the nation. It’s the time of the year to be thankful for what one has and to consider giving back to others who may have less.

In the coming weeks, families across the country will come together and enjoy a Thanksgiving meal that wouldn’t be complete without turkey and a table full of stuffing, mashed potatoes, and other festive sides. Sadly, millions of people face hunger and won’t be able to enjoy such a meal.

Food insecurity is a tragedy all year long, but especially during the holidays, it is an issue that tugs on the heartstrings of many, including big corporations.

One of America’s top grocers, Kroger, recently promised a Thanksgiving fresh for everyone. The company shared its efforts to cushion customers from the impacts of inflation as they prepare holiday meals, including a zero-compromise shopping guide with meal options that can feed 10 people for as little as $5 per person.

 In addition, the company increased total promotions, digital deals, personalized offers and expanded fuel points savings throughout the holidays to keep purchase prices low.

Kroger has estimated that the cost of turkey has risen 20 cents per pound this year and will not shift the rising cost to customers. While inflation is rising everywhere, price hikes are particularly devastating to lower-income households with already tight budgets.

According to 84.51º, Kroger’s retail and data science, insights, and media arm, 48 percent of customers surveyed are aiming to cut back on at least some Thanksgiving staples due to inflationary pressures.

“At Kroger, we are committed to making the holiday season memorable and accessible for everyone,” said Stuart Aitken, Kroger Senior Vice President and Chief Merchant & Marketing Officer. “We strive to keep prices low every day, and this Thanksgiving, we are helping our customers keep turkey at the center of the plate by not passing on rising turkey costs.”

Food insecurity touches many people in America, including students and faculty at universities. Thanksgiving vacation is approaching, and organizations like the Cougar Food Pantry in Washington are providing free meals for WSU students and Pullman Community members that don’t have enough to eat.

Taylor Johnson, a senior education major, has utilized the Cougar Food pantry in the past and works as an advisory board member. Johnson said she experienced food insecurity herself and had a hard time growing up. The pantry’s impact on other families and the community meant a lot to her.

A local food back in South Carolina has also partnered with an automotive group to donate Thanksgiving meals this holiday season. These meals will go to veterans and schools across the Lowcountry and they aim to make 1,000 boxes.

Wake Forest University students in North Carolina have just kicked off their annual holiday tradition that gives back to the community. Turkeypalooza will take place from Sunday, Nov. 13 – Saturday, Nov. 19.

The student-led event prepares 600 Thanksgiving meals for residents in Forsyth County facing food insecurity. The event also coincides with National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week.

“It’s the 16th year for Turkeypalooza and tradition is a big part of it. It’s a time when a lot of groups on campus come together to organize, donate and work together for a common goal of helping alleviate hunger in the community. For me that’s part of the magic.” said Ana Huckins, a WFU graduate assistant.

Given the current economic environment, food waste this year is something that should be a top priority for Americans. 

According to the National Resources Defense Council, 200 million pounds of turkey go to waste every Thanksgiving.  In addition to the wasted turkey, the Center for Biological Diversity reports 150 million pounds of side dishes and 14 million pounds of dinner rolls are also thrown out during the holiday.  

Ways to combat this waste include meal planning ahead of time says Stacy Bevan, a professional practice associate professor in the Department of Nutrition, Dietetics, and Food Sciences at Utah State University.

Meal planning and preparation for meals such as Thanksgiving help reduce the potential of wasting a large amount of food. Bevan says everyone should think about how many people they are going to cook for, so no one overestimates the amount of food they need to buy. 

“ is a super user-friendly website that allows you to pick the foods that you’re going to serve, and then it estimates how much you would need to buy to prepare the appropriate amount for that many people,” she added.

As Thanksgiving quickly approaches, donation requests are also increasing.  The first step to donating a Thanksgiving meal to a family facing hunger this year is finding your local food bank.

The Feeding America network includes 200 food banks throughout the United States that work with food pantries and soup kitchens to reach communities. Once you find a food bank near you, you can find drop-off information, operation hours, and even their most needed items.

Consider making a financial donation at this holiday season. For every dollar you give, the Feeding America network of food banks helps provide at least 10 meals to people in need.