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Giant donates 1,000 turkeys to Blue Ridge Area Food Bank

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VERONA — Clients of the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank are looking at a difficult winter that includes paying increased utility bills and dealing with record inflation.

Millie Winstead, director of development and community engagement for the food bank, said the dilemma can be “heating your home or providing a meal for families.”

Winstead said the food bank continues to serve 120,000 people in a 25-county, eight-city area that includes Waynesboro, Staunton and Augusta County. The client list is less than the 146,000 the food bank served during the height of the pandemic, she said.

On Thursday, the food bank got a Thanksgiving boost thanks to the GIANT Company. A thousand turkeys were donated to the food bank from GIANT, the owners of local MARTIN’s grocery stores. The turkeys will reach families through donation to food pantries the food bank serves, said Les Sinclair, the food bank’s communications and public relations manager.

It’s not just about holiday cheer.

“This is providing nutrition. Protein is important,” Winstead said.

Volunteers from the area MARTIN’s gathered the Verona headquarters of the food bank to help with the unpacking and distribution of the turkeys, as well as other food items.

Dan Watson, assistant manager of the Staunton MARTIN’s, said “it is not difficult to get team members out” for volunteer work like that on Thursday.

“It means a lot to give back,” said Watson, who said it is painful to see families anywhere struggle with food insecurity.

Winstead said MARTIN’s contributions to the food bank this year have been substantial.

“They have donated a half million pounds of food this year,” she said.

The GIANT Company’s holiday outreach for Thanksgiving includes donating more than 13,000 turkeys and chickens to community partners and food banks in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia.

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