SCRANTON, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) —Today marks the 44th Friends of the Poor Thanksgiving dinner distribution in Scranton, but it looks a little bit different this year. Instead of indoors, it’s now a drive-thru to help stop the spread of coronavirus.
Organizers tell Eyewitness News they’ve seen an increased need for food distributions like this during the pandemic.
“We typically serve about 2,500 meals, almost 3,000. This year we’re projecting about 3,500,” Friends of the Poor CEO Meghan Loftus said.
This year the distribution, sponsored by Eyewitness News, is held in a drive through style in order to keep people safe from COVID-19. But the pandemic has led to an increased need for food distributions.
Loftus says from April to July they served more than three times the amount of people than last year. She expects that number to rise.
“As a new parent, I can’t imagine not being able to feed my child. So when somebody comes in with that in their heart, it’s just heartbreaking for me and it makes me really sick to my stomach. So being able to alleviate that for one or two people a day is just worth it for me,” Loftus said.
“This is something I’ve always wanted to do. Dedicate my career to people experiencing food insecurity,” said Amelia O’Donnell, Jesuit volunteer.
O’Donnell has dedicated a year to volunteer for Friends of the Poor. This is her first Thanksgiving dinner with the non-profit, and she says it’s all about the connection the dinner allows.
“Being able to talk to people, and have that love and the bond with people that they might be missing out on,” O’Donnell said.
Those who received food on Tuesday agree.
Sarah Cooper of Scranton says the event is a huge help for her and her family.
“I think it’s a tremendous blessing. And it shows the love that individuals in this community have for each other,” Cooper said.
Volunteers spent half the day preparing for the 44th Friends of the Poor Thanksgiving dinner distribution.