Maryville, TENN. (WATE) — It’s always busy for Second Harvest Food Bank of East Tennessee around the holidays. This year, thanks to the supply chain issue, the organization is having to plan months ahead of time and spend a lot more money.

Second Harvest fully plans to give people experiencing hunger a traditional Thanksgiving meal.

“Just because you’re at risk for hunger, doesn’t mean that you should feel any less than anyone else. So, you’ll receive turkey and stuffing and all the fixins that you would normally receive at a family dinner table,” Rachael Ellis, Director of Development for Second Harvest of East Tennessee, said.

While most families are just now thinking about buying their turkeys, or haven’t even gotten that far yet, Ellis said they started preparing back in June.

“In June of this year, we purchased all of the items necessary, or we ordered the items necessary for Christmas and Thanksgiving,” Ellis said.

With how the pandemic had been going so far, she said they had to start in June. Not only did they have to plan for delays or short supply, but they also had to think about higher prices.

A truckload of potatoes would cost Second Harvest around $600 to get the product from another state and have it transported to the food bank to distribute.

“Currently, because of the supply chain issues, it costs us anywhere between $2,000 to $6,000 for the exact same truck,” Ellis said.

Ellis said that’s why funding and donations are so important for Second Harvest to continue its mission of feeding people experiencing hunger. She said every 95 cents of a dollar goes to purchasing food for the food bank, but right now that dollar doesn’t go as far with these high grocery prices.

In addition, because restaurants and grocery stores aren’t able to get certain supplies, then Second Harvest’s Food Rescue program has been impacted.

“So what happens with the supply chain is if the restaurant cannot get the product, then obviously they don’t have anything to donate. And if the grocery partner also cannot get enough of whatever product they’re looking to purchase, and they don’t have any leftover either, we no longer have as much food rescue,” Ellis said.

Ellis said she is grateful the partners are still giving what they can during this time. As the holidays near, Ellis said the need to help the community grows.

“What happens around the holiday is, folks tend to, obviously, choose other things they need to spend their money on. Heat is a big thing, right? As it gets colder, people have to turn on their heat,” Ellis said.

She said since the pandemic, there’s been a consistently higher need for their services at Second Harvest. But, fortunately, to go with the higher need, East Tennesseans have stepped up above and beyond for their community.

“This is the most incredible part about living in East Tennessee. Yes, the price has increased due to the supply chain. But, so has the support from East Tennessee,” Ellis said.

However, with grocery prices rising, there’s no telling how many more people will need help with food insecurity. That’s why they can always use more monetary donations.

Ellis said Second Harvest knows how to work their magic when it comes to finding new or cheaper supplies, but a little help goes a long way. On Dec. 9 Second Harvest is hosting their Double Your Donation Day, but you can always donate at secondharvestetn.org.

If you are experiencing hunger, you can head to Second Harvest’s website to find the nearest food bank location to you. Ellis said they are ready and prepared to feed around 200,000 East Tennesseans this holiday season.