Turkey drive season is kicking into high gear at Second Harvest. This year, as more families struggle to afford groceries, Second Harvest is working to provide 11,000 holiday meal boxes through Tom’s Turkey Drive in Spokane and 2,500 boxes through the drive serving the Mid-Columbia and Yakima Valley.

It takes a community to pull off these events, with compassionate neighbors sharing their time and money to make a difference.

Today we want to shine a spotlight on the local farmers and agriculture producers who generously donate their homegrown goodness to our Thanksgiving meal boxes.

As Second Harvest Supply Chain Director Mike Thomsen explains, our turkey drives simply couldn’t happen without the ag community’s support.

Mike, please share what you do at Second Harvest: 

Mike: “I oversee the sourcing of produce, work with the team on sourcing of dry, frozen and dairy, plus the coordination of the Beef Counts and Dairy for Life programs. I also oversee the Grocery Rescue program.”

One of your roles is building partnerships with local farms and agriculture producers. Please explain why these partnerships are important.

Mike: “The effort to build strong relationships with local farms and agriculture producers is possibly the most important task toward accomplishing our goal of providing healthy food to those in need. With such a strong agricultural base in Eastern Washington, we are privileged to be able to receive so much fresh produce from our amazing agricultural partners. We’re also privileged to have apples, pears, potatoes and onions as some of the main crops grown here, since they can be stored and available year-round.”

How many months have you been planning for this year’s turkey drives?

Mike: “Actually, most of these relationships have been in place for years and are really just a function of finalizing the delivery dates. Easterday Farms, Gebbers Farms, Franz Bakery, Rosauers, URM, Columbia Basin Blends, Lamb Weston and other regional partners long ago signed on to help fight hunger, and this is one of the ways they participate. We really only need to touch bases and confirm their commitment and when they’re sending the product.”

How many local farms and producers donate to the events?

  • Franz Bakery donates stuffing mix and dinner rolls for Tom’s Turkey Drive in Spokane.
  • Gebbers Farms donates five-pound bags of apples.
  • Easterday Farms donates five-pound bags of potatoes.
  • Dairy Farmers of Washington donates funds to purchase half gallons of milk from our partners at Darigold.
  • The Washington Grain Commission donates funds to purchase stuffing mix and dinner rolls for the turkey drive serving the Mid-Columbia and Yakima Valley.
  • Grimmway Farms donates 1-pound bags of baby carrots.

Rising costs have hit everyone, including local ag producers. Did you encounter challenges sourcing food donations for this year’s turkey drives?

Mike: “No. All of the donors are pretty much ‘all in,’ and it’s business as usual with them. For example, the apple market has really taken a hit the last two years with costs and prices rising over 200% for bulk product. Yet Gebbers did not hesitate to say they were in again this year!”

What would you like to say to the ag partners who donate to the turkey drives? 

Mike: “Your contributions directly affect the lives of thousands of families in the Inland Northwest and give people both hope and dignity during a time of family. It’s hard to think of a greater gift!”

You’ve worked at Second Harvest for three and a half years. Do you have any personal stories about the turkey drives that you’d like to share?

Mike: “I was directing traffic last year and splitting cars into the south and north lines going into the barns (at the Spokane County Fairgrounds). As the cars would slowly file past me into the lines, 90% of them rolled down their window—despite the cold and snow coming down—to thank me. The look of appreciation and relief on most of their faces was something that filled my heart.  People tend to forget how needed and how appreciated these meals are to families in need.”

Why would you encourage neighbors to support the turkey drives? 

Mike: “How does the phrase go: ‘There but by the grace of God go I.’ It could happen to most of us with one or two bad breaks. It’s up to all of us to care for folks who are down on their luck and face hunger.

If you haven’t volunteered or donated, give it a try. You get much more out of the experience than you typically put in.”

How to donate:
Tom’s Turkey Drive in Spokane: Every $20 donation will provide a delicious holiday meal for a family of four. Amazon will generously match the first $20,000 in donations. Click here to donate.

Mid-Columbia and Yakima Valley Turkey Drive: Your $30 donation will provide a complete Thanksgiving meal for a local family facing hunger. U-Pull-It Auto Parts is generously matching the first $15,000 in donations. Click here to donate.




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