BARRIE -- As the demand for food increases, local food banks are finding new ways to provide meals for Thanksgiving, but are struggling with a lack of volunteers to help.

At the Good Shepherd Food Bank in Alliston, this year, the annual Thanksgiving Food Drive has been replaced with a hamper program. “They’re either getting a turkey or a gift card for the grocery store,” said Vice President David Bradbury.

While the food bank has found ways to adapt to the current climate, it has been struggling as well. Bradbury explains that most of their volunteers are senior citizens, who due to the pandemic, can’t work as much as they would like to, and the food bank needs more volunteers to help.

The shelter feeds roughly one thousand people, and Thanksgiving is a crucial time. Although the food bank didn’t see a significant increase in demand at the start of the pandemic, Bradbury says the numbers have grown significantly in the past few months.

Jan Drinkill, president of the Elmvale and District Foodbank, said they saw a surge in demand throughout the entire pandemic, and they are bracing for it to continue to grow even more.

“As time goes along, people are managing now, but winter is coming,” said Drinkill.

She says they are thankful they have enough support to continue giving out the usual Thanksgiving items.

“We’re giving singles and couples a ham, as well as everything else when they come in, and families a turkey.”

Meanwhile, as the second wave begins, The Good Shepherd Food Bank will continue to use the hamper system to give food to clients, as a way to keep things organized and sanitary.

“When they come in, they will get four or five bags full of food,” said Bradbury. “Some are cans, bag of produce, bag of frozen food, refrigerated bag with dairy products, a lot of nutritious food to supplement their diet.”

Both shelters aren’t accepting food donations due to COVID-19, but they are grateful for any monetary donations that keep them afloat.