NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Food pantries around New York City are scaling up their operations so families in need can have a hot meal for Thanksgiving.

A truck filled with 120 frozen turkeys rolled up 159th Street to the Community League of the Heights, known as CLOTH, pantry Friday. The birds will be stored in a freezer until they are ready to go next week.

“It’s important to me, because not everybody is fortunate to get stuff. Putting a smile on a person’s face definitely puts a smile on my face, too,” Tassan Simon, of City Harvest, told CBS2’s Natalie Duddridge.

Food pantries around New York City are scaling up their operations so families in need can have a hot meal for Thanksgiving. (CBS2)

CLOTH pantry gets the majority of its food donations from City Harvest, collecting the most turkeys they ever have. The need is high with so many people still out of work since the shutdown.

“We’re doing about 14,000 turkeys. I believe last year it was about 12,000,” Laura Casale, of City Harvest, said. “City Harvest is a food rescue organization… So what that means is that our trucks are out on the road every day rescuing food that would otherwise go to waste from restaurants, grocery stores, farms.”

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City Harvest then redistributes that food to a network of 400 soup kitchens and pantries across the five boroughs, including CLOTH.

Broadway performer Kathryn Allison is one of the volunteers and knows firsthand what’s like to be out of work with shows on pause. So she ramped up efforts to help her Washington Heights community.

“We usually serve about 200 to 300 people a week. That number in March, April and May doubled, tripled, quadrupled. In the last eight months, we’ve served over 140,000 people,” she told Duddridge.

Meal deliveries change each week, depending on what food the pantry receives. Next week, it will be extra special for Thanksgiving.

“What someone would have on Thanksgiving – the stuffing, the sides, cranberry sauce,” said Allison.

Before the pandemic, City Harvest rescued about 66 million pounds of food annually that would have otherwise gone to waste. This year, the goal is nearly double that — 109 million pounds of food — so no New Yorkers go hungry as a second wave looms.

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