Amid surging food insecurity, turkey drive to supply Thanksgiving meals to thousands in R.I.

VOLUNTEERS SORT items at the Rhode Island Community Food Bank, one of seven social service agencies sharing $180,000 in emergency year-end grants from the Rhode Island Foundation. / COURTESY CONNIE GROSCH/RHODE ISLAND FOUNDATION
AN EFFORT between the Medeiros Foundation and Family Service of Rhode Island will bring Thanksgiving dinners to thousands of Rhode Islanders struggling with food insecurity. In this photo, volunteers sort items at the Rhode Island Community Food Bank in 2019. / COURTESY CONNIE GROSCH/RHODE ISLAND FOUNDATION

PROVIDENCE – As Thanksgiving approaches, nonprofit leaders have shared that an alarming number of Rhode Islanders are struggling to feed themselves and their families.

A partnership between Family Service of Rhode Island and the Medeiros Foundation plans to provide some relief to thousands of those families throughout the state.

While a joint effort between the two organizations, Family Service of Rhode Island, a Providence-based nonprofit supporting children and families’ health, education and overall wellbeing, credits the drive to foundation’s leadership, the Medeiros family.

The Medeiros family, which leads the foundation, has committed 4,000 turkeys and 3,300 fixings baskets to the effort, and intends to reach more than 20,000 families through the drive.

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While food insecurity has long been a struggle for many Rhode Islanders, those leading relief services have noticed that need, which was already rising in recent years, has skyrocketed following the expiration of pandemic-induced SNAP expansions over the winter.

Following that expiration, food pantries and soup kitchens throughout the state immediately reported a 20% increase in the number of people needing seeking assistance, Rhode Island Community Food Bank CEO Andrew Schiff told PBN earlier this month.

According to Food Bank data, 11%, or about 90,000 Rhode Island residents, face food insecurity this year.

And with a full Thanksgiving meal costing $61 on average, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation, celebrations are often out of reach for these families, Lisa Medeiros said.

“Thanksgiving is supposed to be a time to gather together and share a meal with those you love, but many Rhode Island families can’t afford to make this happen,” she stated.

Ed Medeiros experienced similar struggles from his own childhood, which he said he now channels into the family’s philanthropy. On Friday, he and Lisa will travel throughout the state to distribute the meals.

“We were not always so fortunate,” Medeiros recalled in a statement. “When I was growing up, my own family struggled to get food on the table. I will never forget that stress and the hunger.

“No kid should have to experience that in Rhode Island in 2023,” he continued. “Lisa and I want to step up for as many Rhode Island families as we can and share what we have.”

Jacquelyn Voghel is a PBN staff writer. You may reach her at

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