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Volunteers fill holiday meal boxes for Give A Meal Program at York County Food Bank. York Dispatch

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More than 1,400 holiday meals are being distributed to families in need this week, ending a two-month-long holiday food drive led by the York County Food Bank.

The Give A Meal program partnered with 13 area school districts to collect goods for families in need. On Saturday, Dec. 15, volunteers packed meal boxes to be delivered to the various schools on Monday, Dec. 17, for distribution. 

"It's always our busiest time of year," said Debbie Krout, program and operations director for the food bank. "Everyone is in the giving spirit, so we’re very blessed to be recipients of that generosity." 

However, the need doesn’t stop after the holidays, she said. 

“I don't want people to think that (after Saturday)  we stop collecting turkeys or food. The hunger doesn't take a holiday. It’s here all year round," she said. 

This is the fourth — and most successful — year the food bank has hosted the Give a Meal program, Krout said. 

She attributed some of the increased success to new events the food bank hosted as part of the drive this year. 

In addition to the 12th annual "Cranksgving York" bicycle food drive, the food bank hosted a "Headlock on Hunger" wrestling match and the first "Bring Your Turkey to Church Day."

The new events "certainly helped with the collection of food at the various events but also in raising the awareness of prevalence of hunger and the Give A Meal program," she said. 

Bring Your Turkey to Church Day helped bring in 100 turkeys, she said, adding, "We were thrilled with that as a start." 

The donations offset the number of turkeys the food bank had to purchase (about 700) to accompany the meals, she added. 

The food bank is hoping to build on the success of some of the new Give A Meal program events throughout the year, she said. For example, Bring Your Turkey to Church Day might be brought back in the spring to help supply families with a meal for Easter. 

"It was a great learning experience for us about how to coordinate the volunteer teams and get the churches involved," she said. "I think there's a lot of potential for that program to really expand." 

While this was the program's most successful year, the food bank fell just short of its 1,600 meal goal. However, Krout said she expects greater success next year when Logos Academy and York Academy will likely join the effort. 

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This year Lincoln Charter School joined with the area school districts as a partner, she said. 

The food bank  plans to host other themed drives during the year — including a "Souper Bowl" in February and a summertime snack theme drive, she said. 

Other drives might focus on personal hygiene items, such as deodorant and toothpaste, that are often overlooked but needed, Krout said. 

She said the food bank appreciates the "amazing generosity of the York community" and hopes that continues into the cold months to come. 

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