Bridge Family Resource Center assists families with Thanksgiving dinner kits 

Administrative assistant Eden Swasey and Anne Barnes, a family support worker with the Bridge Family Resource Center in Amherst, makes craft activities to add to boxes filled with fresh food items and turkeys, as well as directions and recipes, for 45 families for the Thanksgiving Day holiday.

Administrative assistant Eden Swasey and Anne Barnes, a family support worker with the Bridge Family Resource Center in Amherst, makes craft activities to add to boxes filled with fresh food items and turkeys, as well as directions and recipes, for 45 families for the Thanksgiving Day holiday. STAFF PHOTOgraphs/CAROL LOLLIS

Sarah Bate, an intern, and Lisa Gallant, a clinician with the Bridge Family Resource Center, add recipes and directions to boxes filled with fresh food items, turkeys, and craft activities for 45 families for the Thanksgiving Day holiday.

Sarah Bate, an intern, and Lisa Gallant, a clinician with the Bridge Family Resource Center, add recipes and directions to boxes filled with fresh food items, turkeys, and craft activities for 45 families for the Thanksgiving Day holiday. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

Anne Barnes, a family support worker with the Bridge Family Resource Center in Amherst, fills boxes with fresh food items, turkeys, craft activities as well as directions and recipes for 45 families for the Thanksgiving Day holiday.

Anne Barnes, a family support worker with the Bridge Family Resource Center in Amherst, fills boxes with fresh food items, turkeys, craft activities as well as directions and recipes for 45 families for the Thanksgiving Day holiday. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

Boxes filled with fresh food items, turkeys and craft activities as well as recipes and directions on how to thaw a turkey for 45 families for the Thanksgiving Day holiday put together by the Bridge Family Resource Center in Amherst for families in their programs.

Boxes filled with fresh food items, turkeys and craft activities as well as recipes and directions on how to thaw a turkey for 45 families for the Thanksgiving Day holiday put together by the Bridge Family Resource Center in Amherst for families in their programs. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

By EMILEE KLEIN

Staff Writer

Published: 11-22-2023 3:48 PM

AMHERST — While many families struggling with food security search for meals and programs at local soup kitchens and food pantries, the Bridge Family Resource Center addresses food security from inside households by providing boxes full of vegetables, meat and recipes to cook a Thanksgiving dinner.

In the program’s third year, the nonprofit packed 45 Thanksgiving boxes with turkeys and ham, fresh produce and shelf-stable items to help families in need celebrate Thanksgiving at home. Each box includes recipes for holiday dishes and family activities, such as crafts and games, to occupy children during the day of cooking.

Local businesses, such as the Hadley Stop & Shop supermarket, donate fresh produce and meat in the boxes, and canned or boxed items like boxed mashed potatoes come from Clinical & Support Options Inc. The boxes also include supplies to create place mats and a family tree, plus recipes for Thanksgiving turkey or ham. The amount of supplies in each box are based on existing supplies and family size.

“We are a family resourse center and the work we do is to provide services for family in need. We know there was a great need for food, and working with CSO, we just got this idea to do the best we could and provide food for those families,” Jennifer Kimbal, director of the Bridge Family Resource Center, said.

Kimbal said the number of boxes and types of items in the Thanksgiving kits are based entirely on donations. Due to limited resources, the center’s Thanksgiving boxes are not advertised. If families who hear about the program request a box, Kimbal said the center will try to fulfill the ask with resources available, but cannot make any promises. She also educates families on other relief programs for the holiday in case the center cannot provide a box.

“We make sure the families know within the community where there are Thanksgiving meals that are happening, and other resources and sites they can go,” Kimbal said.

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Kimbal said families who pick up the boxes express gratitude for the service and tell stories about the impact of the boxes. It helps bring families together, which Kimbal said aligns with the Bridge Family Resource Center’s mission.

“The model of our program is to come alongside families, give them a sense of community and assist them with any challenge or obstacle they encounter,” she said.

Staff Writer Emilee Klein can be reached at eklein@gazettenet.com.