Because the COVID-19 pandemic persists, St. Felix Pantry again opted to play it safe with its holiday food drive ahead of Thanksgiving and Christmas, and the 28th annual Thanksgiving meal.

St. Felix Pantry Development Director Rachael Miletkov said the COVID-safe method for this year’s holiday food distribution will remain but will feature a wish list to allow people to plan ahead and stock up on items. Matt Hollinshead photo.

Development Director Rachael Miletkov said pantry food pickup is set up so that people wait outside the door and staffers bring the food outside to them.

Miletkov said the McDonald’s at 1390 NM 528 will again hold drive-thru-only meal services on Thanksgiving Day starting at 10 a.m. The food will be select McDonald’s dishes, donated by father-and-daughter team restaurant owners Julian and Clemy Garza.

Miletkov said St. Felix will hand out Thanksgiving meal tickets this Thursday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon. She also said if people miss the chance to get a ticket during that time frame, they can call St. Felix Pantry, which’ll do its best to get something set up for that person.

Miletkov said the pantry changed its hours to 9 a.m. to noon Thursdays through Saturdays in 2020 to allow more time to pre-sort the food into appropriate serving sizes for families and to sanitize those items because of the state’s COVID-19 restrictions.

She also said that’s why St. Felix Pantry created a new holiday-meal donation wish list this year for pantry items, adding it could make it easier for people to plan ahead in stocking up. The notable pantry items include boxes of stuffing, instant mashed potatoes, canned cranberry sauce, canned corn, canned green beans and canned yams, among others.

“We want to make sure that people are getting the items that are going into a traditional holiday meal, should they so choose,” she said.

She said St. Felix Pantry is also partnering with Sandia Laboratory Federal Credit Union, Bixby Electric and St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church to distribute frozen turkeys to those in need. Aside from turkeys, she said the pantry’s collecting items like frozen hams, pumpkin pies and stuffing.

Miletkov said the goal with turkeys and hams being frozen is they’ll last longer in case one can’t have family over for Thanksgiving and may have to wait until Christmas for that.

“It’s tough right now to think about hosting a meal for not just yourself, but others. But if you can get a donated turkey, that makes a huge impact on your weekly budget,” she said.

However, now that COVID vaccines are readily available, Miletkov said it’ll be interesting to see whether more people may decide to host or travel for Thanksgiving and prioritize assembling food items from the pantry.

For more information on the food drive and the McDonald’s Thanksgiving Day food service, call 505-891-8075 or visit stfelixpantry.org.

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Matt Hollinshead | Staff writer