Goodman Community Center expecting record demand for Thanksgiving baskets

COVID-19 pandemic making it tougher for families to make ends meet

MADISON, Wis. — Food insecurity isn’t always easy to spot, but the Goodman Community Center says they’ve seen a large spike in the demand for their food pantry services since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

“There’s a lot of folks in our community who are struggling,” the Goodman Community Center’s Jon Lica told News 3 Now This Morning. “It’s not necessarily the stereotypical person you see pushing a shopping cart down State Street.”

Lica says about 80 percent of the people who use the Goodman Community Center’s food pantry services have some sort of income — they’re just having trouble making all ends meet. Those struggles have grown since the COVID-19 pandemic forced shutdowns and business closures over the last seven months, with the center serving four times as many families as they usually would since March.

Based on that, Lica says they’re expecting record numbers for their annual Thanksgiving basket drive, which opened for registration on Monday.

But the same pandemic that’s leading to the higher need for donations this year may also end up affecting the number of donations they’ll get.

“We’re accustomed to having the community come out in droves and hosting food drives at their places of worship, or at their work, or amongst their family and friends, and we’re a little bit nervous about if that food is going to come in,” Lica said.

Understanding that asking people to make donations when they may be tightening their own budgets may be a tough thing to ask this year, Lica says even picking up an extra item or two during grocery store trips in the coming weeks can help.

“We need folks to start collecting a few items at the grocery store this week, and next week, and maybe by the time Thanksgiving rolls around, you’ll have several bags you can drop off for us,” said Lica.

The Goodman Community Center also has partnerships with several area food suppliers, so direct financial contributions allows the Center to get more for their money than members of the general public might be able to provide.

“A financial contribution goes a long way for us,” Lica said. “Our dollars are going a lot further than yours are in the grocery store, so making a financial gift is super helpful. About $70 (in monteary donations) feeds a family, everything they could possibly need to prepare a traditional Thanksgiving meal in their home with their families.”

Those interesting in signing up to receive a Thanksgiving basket can do so online through Friday, October 23rd. You can also register by phone by calling 608-204-8018 on Mondays through Fridays from 12:30 p.m. until 6 p.m.

Those who register for a basket will get a postcard in the mail with pickup information on it. Baskets will be distributed Saturday, November 21st through Monday, November 23rd.

If you’re interested in volunteering or helping the drive in other ways, the Goodman Community Center has information on how you can do that on their Thanksgiving baskets website.