Natasha Khazzam, Contributing Photographer

Over 1,000 frozen turkeys went home to Fair Haven families at a Thanksgiving food drive organized by the New Haven Youth and Recreation Department. 

The event — held Thursday evening — took place outside of the John S. Martinez School. Representatives from various city organizations, such as the New Haven Fire and Police Departments, gathered with community volunteers to aid in the distribution of additional Thanksgiving food items including yams, corn and stuffing.

“This is our way of addressing food insecurity and just trying to make sure that families in our city will have a happy holiday,” said Youth and Recreation Department Director Gwendolyn Williams.

In light of recent inflation and the threat of an economic recession, community members discussed the difficulty of gaining access to affordable food. 

Ronald Huggins, a youth services specialist for the Youth and Recreation Department, noted that turkey prices rose from around $0.89 per pound to approximately $2.29 per pound in just the past year. He highlighted the food drive’s role in helping support the city’s residents during times of economic stress. 

“It helps us out a lot,” said Fair Haven resident Camille Pierre. “Especially now that … a lot of people are losing their jobs.”

Pierre explained that the turkey drive gives families the “opportunity to come together” during the holiday season, providing them with Thanksgiving meals to enjoy together. Following a decline in holiday gatherings during the pandemic, Pierre expressed that she was especially grateful to be able to celebrate with her family during the holiday season.

“It has an impact, knowing that you can have a dinner for your family and bring people together,” Pierre said.

Other contributing sponsors included the New Haven Fire Department, the New Haven Police Department, Firefighters’ Union IAFF Local 825, Quinnipiac University, The Hometown Foundation, Yale University Hospitality, Yale University Office of New Haven Affairs and 94.3 WYBC.

“When we see a need, we want to step up and meet that need,” said Yale Police Department Assistant Chief of Police Anthony Campbell, who helped organize the event. 

Campbell noted the joint efforts of Community Engagement Sergeant Martha Ross, who worked alongside the Youth and Recreation Department and the city government to raise funds and reach out to sponsors for the turkey drive. 

“It’s truly just a collaborative effort,” Huggins concluded.

This marks the City of New Haven’s seventh joint annual turkey giveaway since 2016.

Natasha Khazzam covers housing and homelessness for city desk. She previously covered climate and the environment. Originally from Great Neck, New York, she is a sophomore in Davenport College majoring in history and English.