Published on November 18th, 2021 | by Jenna Mason0
Nation-wide Inflation Makes for a Pricey Thanksgiving Holiday
With vaccination rates up and the worst of the coronavirus pandemic seemingly behind us, Oxonians are eagerly anticipating gathering for the Thanksgiving holiday this year. That luxury will come with a hefty price tag, though, due to a perfect storm of factors.
According to a recent New York Times article, the price of traditional Thanksgiving meal ingredients has soared. Prices for commercial turkeys are up an average of 25¢ per pound, while organic, pasture-raised turkeys are up 20 percent. Poultry, fish, and meat prices have risen 10.5 percent since this time last year, and the Consumer Price Index indicates that food prices overall have gone up 4.6 percent. Even products like vanilla, up $2 since 2020, and dinner rolls will cost notably more. Canned goods like cranberry sauce and green beans will be more expensive due to rising steel prices in China.
When it comes to that beloved side dish, sweet potato casserole, farmers in North Carolina, one of the nation’s primary sweet potato producers, note that the simple cost of transport has inflated prices substantially. One farmer shared that he paid more than twice the normal rate to transport his harvest. This hike is due in large part to labor shortages and soaring gas prices.
What are the reasons behind the price spikes? For turkeys, a primary factor is that the price of corn, the primary diet for turkeys, has more than doubled in the last year. Droughts in the Midwest have increased the cost of grains and other crops. Even the cost of wine has increased 25 percent due to droughts in California and supply chain delays for glass bottles stuck on cargo ships in China.
And let’s not forget the cost of travel for individuals and families who choose to visit relatives elsewhere. On average, a gallon of gas in November 2020 cost $1.81 in Mississippi. As of November 2, 2021, the average cost per gallon in Mississippi reached $3.10. That’s a 71 percent increase. That price is unlikely to drop any time soon.
While many financially comfortable Americans may face these inflated costs with dismay, they will still rejoice at the chance to gather with loved ones. For others, Thanksgiving and other winter holidays may pose a financial burden too steep to bear.
For families in Oxford in need during this holiday season, many resources are available. The Oxford Community Market will carry on their annual Harvest Angel Project, which sources local produce and market goods from their vendors, then packs bags for distribution in outreach communities. Bags will include several produce items, honey, homemade bread, eggs, herbs, and a sweet treat.
The Oxford Fire Department is collaborating with the Oxford School District to give out Thanksgiving dinners to needy families, as well. The counselors from each school identify families with food insecurity from each school and submit their names to the fire department. The Family Support Center will deliver dinners to families who cannot come pick them up.
The Lafayette County School District partners with the Commodores Care program, a board-approved organization run by Lafayette County parents. Recipient families are also identified by school counselors or members of the local community.
Local restaurants and bars are also doing their part. The Library on the Oxford Square will be open Thanksgiving Day and will serve a free meal to guests, catered by the Debutante Farmer herself, Elizabeth Heiskell.
Finally, The Pantry, located at 713 Molly Barr Road, provides food to those in need based on eligibility standards that factor in income and family size. The Pantry distributes food to over 500 families in Lafayette County each Tuesday and Wednesday morning from 9 to 11 am. Food carts contain the same groceries each week, but donations sometimes allow The Pantry to include holiday items like cranberry sauce, pie filling, or whole pies.
There are many opportunities for Oxonians to volunteer and support these community-sustaining organizations. The Pantry is in particular need of canned soup (tomato and chicken noodle), canned fruit, canned vegetables, vegetable oil, and peanut butter. Even more effective than donating goods, however, are monetary donations. This is because, as a tax-exempt nonprofit, The Pantry can purchase goods at a lower price than the regular citizen.
If you know a family in need this season, we hope you’ll share these resources. And if you’re able, please consider chipping in with your time or money to support those in need.