fb-pixel Skip to main content

Last-minute ways to help food banks and pantries this Thanksgiving

Donated produce at the American Red Cross Boston Food Pantry Thanksgiving meal distribution.Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff

After the Globe reported on Wednesday that food pantries across the state are struggling to keep up with demand during the holidays amid the COVID-19 pandemic, readers wanted to know how they could step in to help.

With turkey day upon us, it might be too late to volunteer, but here are a few ways you can still get involved — even the day of.

Donate money

Food banks and pantries across the state are accepting cash donations. Here are links to donate to the state’s four food banks:

Some food pantries also accept gift cards. People can purchase gift cards to grocery stores and drop them off at the Merrimack Valley Food Bank. The Greater Boston Food Bank is encouraging money donations instead of gift cards, said Catherine Drennan, a spokeswomen for the food bank.


Deliver groceries to a local food pantry

Some food pantries are accepting food donations amid the pandemic, and it is best to check with their local food pantry ahead of time to see what they will accept and what they need most. People can go grocery shopping and drop off non-perishable goods like canned vegetables, rice, and canned fish and chicken at a food pantry, while some are accepting produce and meat. The Greater Boston Food Bank is not currently accepting food donations due to COVID-19.

The Merrimack Valley Food Bank has set up registries for people to order groceries through Walmart and Amazon that can be delivered to the food bank’s warehouse, Debbie Callery, assistant executive director of the food bank, said. Details are available on the food bank’s website.

More people are inquiring about how to help now, said Linda Zimmerman, the executive director of Neighbors in Need, a food pantry in Lawrence. But it’s important “to remember people are hungry every day,” she said, and there are things Massachusetts residents can do when the holidays pass.


Here are a few ideas:


While many organizations have scaled back or altogether paused their volunteer operations due to COVID-19, some are still accepting volunteers for after Thanksgiving. People are able to volunteer with the Salvation Army and the Greater Boston Food Bank.

Neighbors in Need is also accepting volunteers. People can check in with their local food pantries and organizations to see if there are volunteer opportunities available.

Host a food drive

The Merrimack Valley Food Bank is encouraging people to host food drives, in which people can set a point of delivery, such as their home, school, or workplace, for people to drop off food that will be distributed to local food pantries and programs, Callery said. The Merrimack Valley Food Bank provides a food drive toolkit to explain how people can organize them and provides fliers and posters to help people spread the word.

Amanda Kaufman can be reached at amanda.kaufman@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @amandakauf1.