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Hundreds of turkeys distributed to less fortunate in Nashua

Union Leader Correspondent

November 19. 2012 2:27PM

Volunteers at the Nashua Soup Kitchen and Shelter distribute food for Thanksgiving meals Monday. (Kimberly Houghton/Union Leader Correspondent)

NASHUA - Hundreds of local residents have something to be thankful for this Thanksgiving, as the question of where their next meal will come from has been answered - at least for now.

"This means a lot to us because we have four kids. It is hard to explain to a child why you can't feed them," Tiffany Wright said while waiting in line outside the Nashua Soup Kitchen and Shelter on Chestnut Street. "This is a big help."

Wright, of Nashua, was one of hundreds of people who visited the facility Monday to collect food for Thanksgiving Day. With a turkey, mashed potatoes and all the fixings, Wright said she was grateful to have a nice meal to share with her family on Thursday.

"It seems like more and more people are here every year at this time," she said, explaining many families in the Nashua area are struggling to make ends meet.

An estimated 1,000 turkeys will be distributed at the soup kitchen throughout Monday and Tuesday, in addition to fresh eggs, bread, milk and canned foods, according to Lisa Christie, executive director of the program. "We are seeing many new families approach us for the first time needing help," Christie said while helping to organize the distribution of hundreds of boxes filled with nonperishable food items. "This is probably the busiest day of the year for us."

About two dozen volunteers crammed into the small facility Monday to help distribute the Thanksgiving meals-in-a-box, and each person had their own reason for helping those less fortunate.

"It is surprising to see the long line of people waiting for food, and more people just keep showing up," said Blake Karavas, a ninth-grader at Souhegan High School in Amherst who joined a small group of classmates to help with the distribution of boxes. "It feels good to be able to help out and give back to the community."

Rebecca Brown of Nashua, who is on disability, said it is never easy asking for help, but with her husband out of work for about three years, the extra assistance is greatly appreciated. "It is sad to see all of the people in this type of situation, but the soup kitchen is incredible. They give you everything you need. It is so nice to have this in town," said Brown.

Much of the food distributed by the soup kitchen was provided by the New Hampshire Food Bank. Dozens of cans of soup and vegetables were distributed, along with hundreds of boxes of instant mashed potatoes and stuffing. Bread and pies were also available for those people who were interested, in addition to the frozen turkeys.

"It is a good time of giving, and there are so many people who are in need right here in Nashua," said Dilip Singh, who took time to volunteer at the soup kitchen Monday and hand out fresh eggs. Christie said many of the clients personally thanked her for the Thanksgiving dinner boxes, which will help feed most families for several days.

There is a misperception in New Hampshire that people aren't hungry, but Christie said, "Look around," noting the lengthy line of people waiting for food. In the past three years, the Nashua Soup Kitchen has tripled the amount of meals it serves on a regular basis. Three years ago, the kitchen served about 1,000 breakfasts and about 2,500 dinners during the month of August. This past August, 2,318 breakfasts were served and 5,167 dinners.

Christie is hoping this will be the last Thanksgiving when patrons must wait outside for their food, as the Nashua Soup Kitchen is in the process of purchasing the VFW Post 483 building at 2 Quincy St. The Nashua Soup Kitchen intends to use the large facility for its food distribution services.

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