As Thanksgiving approaches, food shelters and charitable organizations say there has been a noticeable decline in donations even as the demand grows.

Anna McMahon, communications director for Feeding Chittenden in Burlington, says she’s finding it harder to meet the goal of providing fresh, healthy food for every family that needs it.

“Ideally, we would be halfway to our goal of serving 10,000 families right now,” she said. 

McMahon says Feeding Chittenden is serving 200-250 people each day. She said that number will jump to around 700 people during the holidays. She attributes the increase in demand to inflation, more homelessness and a shortage of federal food assistance for state programs such as 3SquaresVT.

“I think a lot of folks were used to the pandemic-era 3SquaresVT allotment, and that has changed,” she said. “So people are saying ‘I may have to use a food shelf or food pantry for the first time.’”

Sally Metro, the longtime operations manager at the Williston Food Shelf, says she typically serves around 160 families during the holidays. That number is now more than 300 families.

“We’re cutting back a little bit on those that we serve, to try to lower the numbers a little bit, but we have new people signing up every day,” she says. “We had 22 new families sign up last month. 

“This is looking like it’s going to be the busiest we’ve ever been,” Metro says. 

McMahon and Metro urge anyone who can to help out by donating food or cash to local food banks in the coming weeks.