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Greater Boston Food Bank says supply chain issues present challenges this holiday season

Timothy Sanders arrived with a delivery at the Greater Boston Food Bank.
Timothy Sanders arrived with a delivery at the Greater Boston Food Bank.Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff

The global supply chain issues upending commerce and leaving consumers to wonder when some of their trusted staples will reappear on store shelves has also presented challenges to the Greater Boston Food Bank’s annual drive to provide as many Thanksgiving meals as possible to needy families, the nonprofit said in recent social media postings and a phone interview Monday.

“Supply chain issues are plaguing many industries, including the food industry,” the Food Bank said Nov. 9 in a Facebook posting. “As a result, we’ve seen prices for different food products, including holiday staples like turkey, squash and sweet potatoes, significantly increase, which is why our Hunger Free Holidays fundraising campaign is so critical this year.”

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The posting provided a link to the nonprofit’s holiday giving fund-raiser and said, “Help us provide healthy holiday meals to those in need.” The Food Bank says a donation of $25 can support a holiday meal for a family of five.

Catherine Lynn, a spokeswoman for the Food Bank, said in a phone interview that each year the nonprofit distributes some 23 million healthy meals between Thanksgiving and the rest of the holiday season.

Asked if the Food Bank fears the supply chain problems might significantly cut into the number of meals the nonprofit can provide this holiday season, Lynn said “not yet,” chalking it up the group’s “deep relationships” with the food industry that allow it to lock in orders well ahead of time.

Right now, Lynn said, inflation has driven the prices of turkey up by more than 10 percent, squash by more than 17 percent, and sweet potatoes by over 28 percent. She said supply shortages could have a more substantial impact on operations at the end of calendar 2021 or the beginning of 2022.

But the food used for next week’s holiday meals has “already gone out the door” to partner agencies, Lynn said. “In terms of making sure there’s food in pantries this holiday season, we’ll make sure that happens.”

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She said of the supply chain issues, “it’s something we’re really monitoring closely.” The Food Bank, she continued, has been “having conversations with retailers” to negotiate costs for bulk food orders.

In a Facebook posting Sunday, the Food Bank reported it had been able to supply a Brockton charity with much-needed food assistance.

“Last week, we provided The Charity Guild, Inc. with 7,000 pounds of healthy food to help re-stock their pantry,” the Food Bank wrote. “We’re grateful for all their work to support the Brockton community!”


Travis Andersen can be reached at travis.andersen@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe.