Challis volunteers with the Idaho Food Bank stayed busy in the cold weather Thanksgiving eve to held load food into about 65 autos full of hungry families.

Some autos held multiple families, according to Eileen Hardy, who helps organize the distribution. Combined with deliveries made by East Idaho Public Health workers and others to people who can’t leave their homes, the 130 boxes of food shipped to Challis from the food bank went fast.

The 65 vehicles stopping for food at the November distribution is 10 or 15 more than usually participate in the monthly program. At one point last week, the pick-up line got pretty long.

“We had those 13 cars waiting in line that one time,” Hardy said. Because of the coronavirus pandemic people now line up in their cars outside the Challis Legion Hall and stay in them while volunteers load boxes of food into their autos. In the past, people could go inside Legion Hall and peruse.

People receive food boxes on a first-come, first-serve basis with no prior approval required, Hardy said.

Hardy and her husband, Jack, said the increased traffic this month could be the work of the coronavirus, but most likely it had to with the holiday.

Along with staples, people had donated turkeys, pre-packaged servings of mashed potatoes and gravy, bread, rolls and cakes to give out for Thanksgiving.

Despite local donations, Hardy said there weren’t enough turkeys. Partway through the distribution Hardy had to prioritize families with children when it came to the frozen birds. However, she said everyone in line got some food, which she counts as a win.

Other volunteers shared Hardy’s opinion. Dillon Fisher, who helped load food into autos, said he was having a good day despite the cold November weather. Volunteering as part of his LDS mission, Fisher helped Hardy load turkeys and potatoes. Fellow missionary Calder Allen said given what’s going on in the world, helping keep people fed is a worthwhile way to spend the holidays.

“It’s good to know in hard times, there’s places people can turn to,” Allen said.

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