Pantry Cuts Turkey From Thanksgiving Food Packages

OAK PARK, Ill. (CBS) — As the economy limps along, demand at food pantries skyrockets.

That’s why some are changing the way they do business this Thanksgiving, CBS 2’s Mike Puccinelli reports.

The Oak Park River Forest Food Pantry has chicken, Beef-A-Roni and all kinds of food, but they didn’t have turkey on the Saturday before Thanksgiving.

Executive Director Kathy Russell says it’s a sign of the times.

“With $20, what a turkey costs, I can feed five families for two weeks,” she says.

And feeding more people is what they are doing these days at the 35-five-year old pantry. In fact, Saturday was the busiest day in the organization’s history.

“Our highest number was 314 families. Today we’ve given out 445 numbers,” Russell says.

None of the clients, who waited for hours to get food, left with turkeys or hams in years past.

Jessie Mae Hoskins and others say they understand the logic behind the pantry’s decision.

“I think that’s the right thing to do,” another client, Robert Shanks Sr., says. “I don’t mind as long as there is food on the table.”

Pamela Benbow says she’ll take the bags of groceries she received to put food on her table and also on that of her elderly neighbor, who she says desperately needs it.

“She’s a senior eating cat food. That’s unacceptable in the USA,” she says.

Shanks says he’s been depending on the pantry for the past five years and gets 80 percent of his food there.

The pantry is also about to reduce the number of communities it serves.

That is in part because of the rising cost of food and increased demand. Officials say those communities will be served by other pantries.

More from Mike Puccinelli
  • Mapache

    All through the 80’s the homeless and the seniors eating cat food was laid with glee by the media at the feet of Ronald Reagan….Why is Obama getting a pass?

    Where are all the stories of the homeless and people living in cars that occur every time there is a Republican in the White House……where do they all go?

    • JustAGuy

      Remember when Bush was president, the media breathlessly kept a tally of war dead and reminded us at every turn how many died in combat?

      When Obama became president, the news of the poor and homeless went the same place as the news of combat dead: The media’s file for news without political usefulness.

      • Mike Alright

        Remember when the US was free and not a feminized joke? The baby-boomers do!

      • cletus van damme

        Remember when CBS gave Ron Paul 89 seconds of air time during a 90 minute debate.

  • Fanny Forbes Franklen

    Welcome to ØmeriKa. You can thank all the degenerate morons that voted for him and the mentally deficient that still support the Indonesian national illegal alien.

    • Gerry

      Yes, the entire U.S.A. is in much deeper trouble now than since the last Great Depression. This is the second one, and is extremely amplified by Obama’s ignorant “Green” agenda. America will suck wind until real Americans and entrepreneurs regain the upper hand to move the country forward. We may have to do it by force if necessary, this guy and his cronies are an extreme bunch of LOSERS!!

  • JustAGuy

    Welcome to the Obama Economy. Re-elect Barack Obama and watch it get worse.

    • JohnDave

      The Traitor/Liar/Poser/Socialist-in-Chief never gives up his bull.
      So Rahmbo calls Republicans/Tea Partiers ‘turkeys’? Gee what a smart
      ass he is.

  • Duck

    The quote that should raise eyebrows is, “I don’t mind as long as there is food on the table.” Well, as long as the guy getting free food doesn’t mind….

  • my$.02

    How’s that Hope and Change workin’ for ya?

  • Patrick

    You can always tell when a story is linked to Drudge Report by the idiotic comments that suddenly emerge.

    • Michelle

      So, Patrick, how did you get here?

      • Patrick

        Because I live in Chicago….

    • Canof Sand

      You can always tell a liberal commenter by their attack-the-messenger whining about the Drudge Report, the most popular news aggregator on the planet, whose front page can by seen in camera shots of newsrooms across the country.

  • Tomas

    Record foreclosures, homeless and poverty. The media almost never mentions it. A soldier gets killed in Iraq or Afghanistan and we’re lucky if the scroll it for an hour. For two years the media and politicians continually slandered, insulted, mocked and belittled the Tea Party. hey called them every foul and vial name in the book, Without any evidence, claimed they were violent, racist, Nazis, Klan members, astro turfers, and on and on. Over the last two months, they’ve celebrated the Occupation protesters. They are a disgrace to the country and what’s left of there profession.

  • Terr

    Interesting comment: “Shanks says he’s been depending on the pantry for the past five years and gets 80 percent of his food there.”

    5 years sponging off the government teats and local food pantries?? Smells like a career welfarer.

    • markk

      He undoubtedly trades his EBT card for booze, cash, or drugs. I’ve seen guys using three different EBT cards to buy groceries -when I asked one how he has three cards, he told be he buys them from people for cash and cigarettes. The guy was a tile contractor as well, working for cash and claiming unemployment and food stamps himself at the same time!!

  • Massimo Deportado

    Yes, the people must be punished for turning on Obama.

    Let’s disappoint him on Nov 2012…..

  • Crosscut

    Some of these people are Democrat moochers taking advantage of free food. They probably scoop up a free ham or turkey every year. Bet they weren’t too happy this time.

  • Chicago Nick

    We’re running out of time for those out there who think this government is leading us, they’re leading us right to subservience and destruction. I’m 48 and never seen this nation in such disarray and the answer isn’t more ‘free money’ from Uncle SammyBama and friends, it’s self sufficiency whenever and wherever possible.

    Hands up not hand outs….. and if the government has their way along with the left, the Christian Judeo charities that used to pick up the slack in our neighborhoods for those out there knocked for a loop when times got rough, they’ll be run into the memory hole as well.

    To destroy this nation the church, the family and morality have to be destroyed, and this cabal has brought us all to the brink.

    I hope America’s little flirtation with Marxism under this wannabe dictator who’s even said out loud “how much easier it would be if he were a dictator”, (something any other president would have been run out of office and up a tree limb for btw) because if this nation doubles down on Obama Inc your children’s futures are solidified. And they won’t look ANYTHING like ANYTHING we grew up with.

    We’re out of time and money America, and the time has come to test the mettle of the American people of today, as our grandparents’ generation was called the greatest one, we’ll be known as the one that let it all slip away and the world fall into modern era chaos. You already see the Lord of the Flies effect with these OWS crowds, is that what you want for you and your family?

    I sure as helllllll don’t.

    • auzzievick

      ironic Chicao Nick, but “I” haven’t seen things so bad & I’m ALMOST 65 in Jan. At least in the 60’s, the protests had a defined end in mind: get out of Nam & give equal rights to everyone.

      I too fear for our future generations & the “something for nothing” mentality breeding insidiously. There definately seems to be something tied to our “Dumbed-Down” educational system. Think today’s kids even know what “Lord of the Flies” is about?

      BTW, get off the “cating cat” food bit, reporters. Back in the 80’s it was “dog food.” Have you seen the price of pet food lately?

      • Coffee Girl

        Obviously, they have no idea what literature is about since the OWS “manifesto” thought we were living in Orson Welles’ world, rather than George Orwell’s. Sheesh!

  • Josh Biggs

    Welcome to Obamanomics…………… If you voted for the boy king you deserve to starve.

  • Marysia

    Since when does a turkey cost $20? Most supermarkets have them for 49 cents a pound – so you get a 20 pound turkey for $9.80. 49 cents a pound is *cheaper* than cat food…a small 3 ounce can of cat food costs 49 cents. Everybody needs to learn how to shop better…sheesh.

    • RHO

      Not anymore. The cheapest turkey I could find was $ .99 a pound. I haven’t seen a single ad for cheap turkey this year. But you are right about the cost of cat food.

      • Petsorus

        Don’t know where you live but out here in Kalifornia most of the big grocery stores are carrying at least one brand of turkeys at .49 per pound. Just bought one.

      • Petsorus

        Don’t know where you live but out here in Kalifornia most of the big grocery stores are carrying at least one brand of turkeys at .49 per pound. Just bought one.

  • Raquel Peterson

    Dear Mr. Mike Puccinelli,
    I wanted to follow-up on the story about pantry cuts turkey from Thanksgiving packages, the story was on CBS on 11/19/11, in reference to Pamela Benbow who stated that she recieves items from the food pantry for herself as well as her elderly neighbor, who sometimes eats cat food because she has no other food items in the home, I would like to send her elderly neighbor a care package for the holidays, because I don’t believe that any human should be eating cat food because they have NO FOOD. My name is Raquel Peterson/(219)588-6548 or email me at and I will make sure to get her food right away.
    Thank You for this story
    Raquel Peterson

  • BigBoa

    Chicago Nick,

    You are a wise person. Don’t let anyone ever tell you different…..

    And mr. “Two cents”….obviously you’ve already figured in inflation….

    As for the rest of you…

    The mighty Boa WARNED you that O’Bozo needs to be removed immediately. The mighty Boa also warned you that only God knows what else he will pull between now and next year.

    Then he also warned you why the occupiers need to be confronted by the people and disbanded. Many claiming to be “conservative” called such testimony “shameful”……

    Well here’s to hoping those same pu$$ies now enjoy rampant disease coming to a neighborhood near them and here’s to hoping their relatives contract it. AND the violence they’ll also be bringing with them…..

    And by the way, enjoy the dictatorship.

    You were told that this imparting of wisdom would come to an end and the time has come. Reap what you have sown. So it is said, so it is written.

    • SMPRFI33

      What’s with all this “needs” business? O’Bozo needs to be removed, occupiers need to be confronted??? How about should or must or ought to be removed or confronted. “Needs” does make the least bit of sense in this contest.

  • Dee Sloan

    Food pantries? Hunger in America? What are the food stamps, WIC, myriad welfare programs bleeding the workers (lib lingo) dry being used for?

  • Tracy

    Sometimes these stories can turn into miracles, when we give people a way to help out. I work at a morning show (radio) in Wichita, KS, ..we started doing a “turkey drive” when we realized how many families were losing that tradition .. There were some difficult years as it became a tradition, but now ..along with the people, families, and companies making a tradition of giving, our schools have made a COMPETITION of giving, and we collect enough turkeys, other food and cash to carry our pantry through Thanksgiving, and into Christmas. United Methodist Open Door shares turkeys with other groups. Watching our area high schools, and middle schools make a production of their presentation is astonishing, some came in covered wagon, some on motorcycle, some in military motorcade, .. they’re WONDERFUL.. and Cargill brought a forklift and semi to load for the food ministry. I saw the first of the 1m800 families wrapping around a very very cold building this morning, waiting their turn, .. I was so glad their bag would be full. I hope other communities can get their radio shows (with some prayers) to inspire those who can … to share.. We all just need to know where and how.. we all want to. It’s never about the government, it’s always about each other, don’t you think? blessings to all. t

  • Paul

    That’s OK. I hear Obama voters prefer Franks n Beans anyway.

  • RHO

    A senior eating cat food? Are you kidding me? That’s baloney. You can buy mac nd cheese cheaper than cat food. A box of generic mac and cheese is a quarter. Ramen noodles are about the same. But I digress. This is the Obombya Depression.

  • smokehouse56

    Total reliance of other peoples money. Most of these people think their entitled to free food. I’m not. Why are they? Now be a good little socialist and vote for Obama again to keep that free stuff coming. Oh, by the way, I’ll bet they don’t pay a cent in tax’s, never did.

  • bbe the change you want to see in others

    A local Christian radio station here gathered over 1,000 turkeys for local food banks. This is going on all over the state of Florida. My church is feeding 1500 families Thanksgiving dinner including turkey and pie.

    We can all make a difference in the lives of others. It’s not too late- please do what you can. Do it today.

  • Mark Dean

    “With $20, what a turkey costs, I can feed five families for two weeks,” she says.

    So to feed one family for a month means bridge cards should be worth less than $9. I have no idea what ‘clients’ are getting now but I’m sure it’s a lot more than that. I see a real opportunity to save some taxpayer money.

  • dwoof

    Is cat food really cheap??

blog comments powered by Disqus
Daily Weather Reports Delivered To You!SIGN UP NOW: Get daily weather reports every morning from meteorologist Steve Baskerville!
CBS Sports Radio RoundupGet your latest sports talk from across the country.

Listen Live