700 Thanksgiving meals were distributed to local families Thursday

FARMINGTON — What’s for dinner on Nov. 28? Thanks to Victor-Farmington Food Cupboard and supporters community-wide, families in food-insecure households will gobble up 700 turkeys and turkey breasts; 280 chickens; nearly 10,000 pounds of apples, onions and potatoes; and 600-plus apple and pumpkin pies.

Best of all, every delicious morsel will be free.

Victor-Farmington Food Cupboard’s annual Thanksgiving Basket program has been a longstanding tradition. This time around, event co-organizers Mark and Marcie Hamilton said 700 families will be assured of a satisfying holiday feast — a big leap over 2018.

“Every year we grow by about 10 percent,” said Mark Hamilton. “This year it jumped. I’m not sure why.”

About 150 volunteers stood curbside Thursday to deliver meal ingredients through open windows and into trunks of waiting vehicles outside Farmington United Methodist Church. Though pickup was scheduled from 4 to 8 p.m., cars were queued up and waiting by 1:45 p.m.

“We couldn’t do this without the church — they have their parishioners come and direct traffic for us,” said Hamilton as he waved the next group of drivers into position. “And the state troopers direct traffic because we’ve had it backed up to Route 332 before.”

Box-packing and staging took place inside the church as well, with supplies covering the width and breadth of the large sanctuary.

“My wife and I have been involved with the Victor Farmington Food Cupboard for a long time, and their philosophy is that nobody should go hungry,” said Hamilton, who serves on the food cupboard’s board. “There are a lot of people who need help — you’d be surprised how many. Sometimes it’s a short period of time they need help, sometimes it’s extended.”

In any case, no one is turned away. Hamilton said they’d make up extra boxes if necessary.

So what’s in a Thanksgiving basket? One meal kit includes a turkey, turkey breast or chicken and roasting pan; an apple or pumpkin pie; 5-pound bags of apples, onions and potatoes; butter, acorn squash, applesauce, stuffing, green bean casserole, soups, crackers, bread, cookies and lentil and pinto beans.

“We’re trying to get as many protein type things as we can,” said Hamilton.

Planning started in August and donations are requested from individuals, schools and businesses in the Victor and Farmington communities, he said.

“Because of the buying power we have with Foodlink, we encourage financial gifts,” said Hamilton. “We buy a lot of products for 10 cents on the dollar.”

Stepping up this year were community churches, Town of Victor employees and the Victor and Bloomfield school districts, where students and staff collected canned goods and staples. Victor Schools have provided refrigeration for perishable products left over after Thursday.

Food and product pickup was a snap this year thanks to a few local businesses, Hamilton said.

“It would probably take twice as long if we didn’t have the help of Leonard’s Express, Shoemaker Landscaping and Duke Rental,” he said. “We used to do this all by our own trailers and vans. Now that we have Leonard’s helping and the forklift, it takes about half the time.”

Koch Container in Victor provides the “baskets” that hold meal ingredients, Hamilton said.

“They’re not only a big financial supporter, but they donate 1,000 boxes each year,” he said.

Volunteer Anna Harmer said her favorite part of Thursday’s delivery program was meeting the families.

“When I go out there and put a pie or turkey in their car, they turn around and have that sincere look in their eye,” she said. “Their thank you is meaningful and you can see it.”

“It is a good feeling,” said Hamilton. “My wife and I, it’s a busy couple of weeks for us, but in the end it’s all worth it.”

VFFC volunteer Beth Thomas said business is booming at the food cupboard.

“The numbers have gone way up,” she said. “I don’t know what the need is, but we have seen increased numbers at the Food Cupboard over the last couple of months. We were serving about 550 families each month, but in October we approached 700 families — that’s 1,900 people.”

Thomas said she was deeply impacted by the stories she heard from recipients on Thursday.

“The very first car that I greeted, the people were so grateful they were crying,” she said. “That’s what sticks. I hope we helped them a tiny little bit.”