Food pantries prepare for holiday rush

Charlotte-based Loaves & Fishes kicked off its busiest season Wednesday with the deliveries of 600 Thanksgiving turkeys to Mecklenburg County’s neediest families.

The nonprofit says the next seven days are typically the most demanding of the year for its 20 pantries, with thousands of clients preparing to celebrate the holiday with a large meal.

Loaves & Fishes released its annual client survey Wednesday, revealing the agency is on track to feed 80,000 people this year.

“We’re now down to prerecession levels of need, but the fact is we still have 80,000 hungry in the county, and half of them are children,” said Beverly Howard, executive director of Loaves & Fishes.

“For those who have a hard time visualizing that, it’s enough to fill Bank of America Stadium, and have 5,000 people standing on the field. That’s a lot of hungry people.”

Loaves & Fishes is a nonprofit emergency food pantry program that provides a week’s worth of nutritionally balanced groceries at no cost to individuals and families who are experiencing a crisis.

Just under 900 clients were interviewed for the annual survey this year. Among the findings:

At the height of the recession in 2012, Loaves & Fishes said it fed 126,803 people.

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