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Westmoreland County Food Bank short 1,700 turkeys for holiday season

| Monday, Oct. 13, 2014, 11:06 p.m.

The head of the Westmoreland County Food Bank is appealing for donations of money and turkeys to make up for shortfalls during the upcoming holiday season.

“Traditionally, this is our best fundraising time,” said Kris Douglas, chief executive officer of the food bank. “Right now, we're not seeing those donations coming in.”

Douglas said Monday the group needs about 1,700 turkeys to meet the number they promised to give out for the holiday season.

The situation worsened when officials learned they will receive only two trailers of turkeys this year from a federal program. They had been expecting four, Douglas said.

At the same time, individual donations are down, store donations of turkeys have declined, and government funding has decreased, he said.

“The donations have flat-lined this year, so it's not only the turkeys, but the donations as well,” Douglas said.

Donations from individuals and foundations make up about 60 percent of the group's operating budget, but donations are behind about $75,000, Douglas said.

A harsh 2013-14 winter took a toll on the group's finances as well as vehicle expenses that were double the $25,000 budgeted, Douglas said.

Douglas said food bank officials hope that the time of year known as a season of giving will bring help their way.

“It's really this time of year when people seem to be more generous,” he said.

Lisa Scales, chief executive officer of the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank, said she has an ample number of turkeys but has seen increased demand for services.

“We had been serving 110,000 people a month. This past summer, it jumped up to 125,000,” she said.

The 2014 Hunger in America study pointed out other needs among those receiving aid from food assistance groups, Scales said.

Many people are picking between paying for food and other crucial expenses, according to the study.

People frequently opt for unhealthy foods rather than healthier alternatives because the unhealthy foods often are cheaper, according to the study.

In Westmoreland County, one in seven people, or 45,000, turn to food pantries or meal services to feed themselves and their families, the hunger study showed.

Bob Stiles is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-836-6622 or

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