Soaring demand and a national turkey shortage have combined to make the Food Bank for Larimer County’s 2021 Tour de Turkey the most challenging turkey drive in its operational history, and the organization is calling on all who are able to donate a frozen turkey, ham or whole chicken on or before Nov. 18.

The Food Bank is attempting to gather more than 6,500 turkeys—thousands more than in years past. Even after a push for early donations, by Nov. 15 the Food Bank had collected less than 10 percent of that goal. The Nov. 18 Tour de Turkey events in Fort Collins and Loveland, supported by New Belgium Brewing and Nordson Medical, will provide a final opportunity for area residents to contribute to the Food Bank’s turkey drive.

“This is a red alert. We need turkeys,” said Amy Pezzani, CEO of the Food Bank for Larimer County. “We are genuinely worried about holiday meal availability for everyone who has requested extra support. If you can’t find a turkey, please donate a frozen ham or a whole chicken. Our goal is to ensure that no one in our community goes without a holiday meal this Thanksgiving.”

Supply chain challenges have led grocers to impose purchase limits on turkeys, eliminating many large-scale buying options and making it more difficult for individual donors to get turkeys both for their own families and the Food Bank. The decreased availability comes as regional food insecurity continues to rise: Feeding America recently estimated that food insecurity has increased by 27 percent in Larimer County since 2019.

Most who typically receive turkeys from the Food Bank have few other options for a holiday meal. The recipients, including the families of more than 1,500 area school district students, are identified well ahead of the holiday season through the Food Bank’s Nourishing Network. The network is a group of 108 partner agencies and schools that works closely with those facing extreme need, and collectively the agencies help distribute millions of pounds of food to the community throughout the year.

To help liven up the donation process, New Belgium Brewing is throwing its brand’s weight behind the Tour de Turkey for a second time. The first 250 donors to arrive at the Tour de Turkey locations on Nov. 18 will receive a coupon for New Belgium products, and a lucky few will win a New Belgium prize package valued at $50. Nordson Medical has also returned to offer support, and a host of volunteers will be ready to receive turkeys, hams and chickens.

“Everyone in our community deserves a holiday meal to celebrate together with their loved ones,” Pezzani said. “This year, it’s harder than ever for us to get turkeys to those who need them. We’re calling for all hands on deck to make it happen. We live in a generous community, and we believe Larimer County can rise to meet the demand.”

As is tradition every year, the Poudre School District’s Turkey Roundup will be part of Tour de Turkey, with participating schools delivering as many turkeys as they can gather to the event. Many of those turkeys will go back to students in need at various PSD schools.

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Fort Collins Tour de Turkey
Thursday, November 18, 6 am-6 pm
2535 S College Ave.
Old Kmart – corner of College & Drake

Loveland Tour de Turkey
Thursday, November 18, 6 am-6 pm
261 E 29th St.
Orchards Shopping Center