United Way Launches $750,000 Drive to Distribute 15,000 Thanksgiving Meals at 23 Locations Across the Region

November 6, 2020

New Data Shows Massachusetts Food Insecurity Is Projected to Increase by 59% from 2018-2020, the highest projected increase in the nation

BOSTON – United Way launched a $750,000 fundraising drive this month to provide Thanksiving meals to 15,000 families at 23 locations across eastern Massachusetts and New Hampshire.  The effort is even more critical in the face of new data showing Massachusetts’ food insecurity rates projected to increase by 59% from 2018-2020 (the highest projected increase in the nation).

With the ongoing Covid-19 public health and economic crisis, countless workers in our region remain underemployed with reduced hours and are struggling to make ends meet. The number of Massachusetts households experiencing food insecurity has jumped from eight percent last year to over 18% today. Adding to the crisis, many local traditional Thanksgiving meal drives are not able to take place in person this year due to necessary health and safety Covid-19 restrictions and guidelines.

With so many residents making difficult tradeoffs between paying rent, putting food on the table or paying medical and utility bills, United Way is launching a $750,000  fundraising drive throughout November to help provide 15,000 families with gift cards to purchase food for a Thanksgiving celebration. 

United Way’s 21st Annual Thanksgiving Project will serve 4,000 more families than it did in 2019.  With the ongoing crisis and unemployment rates as high as 30 percent in hard-hit cities, many families are unable to make ends meet.  For $50, donors can provide a family in need with a gift card to a grocery store in their local community to purchase food for a Thanksgiving meal.

United Way’s Thanksgiving Project will be held at 23 distribution sites on November 21st in the following communities:  Chelsea, Attleboro, North Attleboro, Milton, Lowell, Haverhill, Lawrence, Lynn, Quincy, South Boston, Randolph, Weymouth, Somerville, Malden, Medford, South End, Dorchester, along with Rochester and Newmarket in New Hampshire.  Last year, United Way’s Thanksgiving Project distributed more than 200,000 pounds of food to over 11,000 families.

“Donations to support United Way’s Thanksgiving Project will help ensure that those most impacted the Covid-19 crisis in our community have the chance to enjoy a home-cooked holiday meal, no matter the challenges they may be facing as a result of the pandemic,” said Bob Giannino, President and CEO at United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley.

How to get involved:

  • Sponsor a family’s meal by donating directly to the project. As food costs continue to rise, funding remains our most critical need.
  • Host a virtual Gather, Gobble and Give event! Challenge your friends to match your donation or host an online get together to sponsor a local family’s Thanksgiving dinner as part of the celebration. All you have to do is set a goal for the number of families you would like to support – each meal costs only $50.
  • Join the movement by following @unitedwaymabay on social media and sharing what you are most grateful for. Remember to tag #UWThanksgiving #LiveUnited and @unitedwaymabay and help spread the word.

Since the start of the COVID-19 crisis, United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley has raised and distributed over $8 million to more than 300,000 vulnerable people, providing emergency financial assistance of $300 on average to help pay for food, rent/housing, utilities, and other basic needs. More than 100,500 households received food assistance, 3,500 households had utility/rental help and another 8,000 households received general financial assistance.