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Buy a dinner for a struggling family

While purchasing that turkey for Thanksgiving, why not think about a needy family struggling to get through the holidays?

Prairie Center Red Apple market in Coupeville has a formal arrangement with Gifts from the Heart Food Bank where customers can buy a Thanksgiving dinner and donate it to the food bank, Town Council member and Gifts from the Heart president, Molly Hughes, said at Tuesday's council meeting.

The meal, which includes a ham, turkey, potatoes, vegetables and a pie, costs $25. Customers can simply tell the clerk and the purchase will go to Gifts from the Heart.

Hughes said in an interview after the meeting that people had made similar purchases in previous years, but now it’s a more formal arrangement.

The meal donations comes at a time when Central Whidbey’s food bank is seeing a dramatic increase in the numbers of households seeking foods while the amount of donations is declining.

Hughes said the number of households seeking food increased by 40 percent in July and has remained at that high level in August, September and October.

Several food drives that have taken place in recent weeks haven’t brought in as much food as in previous years. The hospital’s food drive generated a third of the food as last year and the elementary school food drive brought in about half the food, Hughes said.

“They’re just generating less food this year,” Hughes said.

A food drive at the high school is getting ready to kick off and folks can still make donations at barrels located at the Coupeville Post Office, Whidbey Island Bank and Prairie Center.

She said the food bank did receive a welcome boost in the form of a donation from the Farmers Market organization.

The donation comes from Harvest Fest, which was held last month. Relay races during the annual festival raised $5,500 for Gifts from the Heart, which was 10 times more than what Hughes expected would be raised.

The food bank is also starting a Christmas card fundraiser. Instead of giving a loved one a gift, they are given a card saying a donation has been given to Gifts from the Heart in their name.

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