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Food pantries prepare for Thanksgiving season

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WALLINGFORD--- We are just a week from Thanksgiving which means local food banks and pantries are stocking up to help feed families through the holidays.

The Connecticut Food Bank collects around 23 million pounds of food each year.

"It's a number we've seen rise over the past several years," said spokesperson  Paul Shipman.

Earlier in November, the Food Bank's  60 person staff settled in to its new headquarters and distribution center in Wallingford.

With four levels of shelving, practically from floor to ceiling,  the 84,500-square-foot facility gives the Food Bank the ability to bring in larger donations of food than it's old headquarters in East Haven.

"Our ability to store large quantities of food, to accept large quantities of food, really helps us to keep the cost of providing food very low," said Shipman.

The Food Bank serves six of Connecticut`s eight counties. The additional space also makes it easier to train its network of 4,000 volunteers, often coming from local businesses and schools.

The Food Bank will host several community drives over the next several days, and it's looking to the public for volunteer help.

"Thanksgiving is busy, but the need continues all year," Shipman said.

And each year, the Salvation Army serves 290,000 meals to Connecticut residents.

At its Meriden location the shelves are filling up, thanks to a recent donation from a local Boy Scout troop, but more is needed.

"It seems like we cannot keep enough food on the shelves in order to feed the people that come in on a weekly basis," said Lt. Lenissa Rivera, of the Meriden chapter of the Salvation Army.

Traditionally workers there would give families a bag of food on Thanksgiving. This year, families will be able to pick out what they want from the food pantry.

"This way we serve a multitude of people and different cultures.  Not everyone eats the same thing. The families don`t eat the same traditional things that we do. This gives them the opportunity to really customize their Thanksgiving," Rivera said.

The Connecticut Food Bank will be hosting several community food drives in the coming weeks and is looking for donations from the public.

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