With more Minnesotans expected to face food shortages this Thanksgiving, Jennie-O has teamed with Adam and Caitlin Thielen to double their turkey donation to the Salvation Army.
The Vikings wide receiver and his wife are joining the nation's second-largest turkey company through their philanthropic organization, the Thielen Foundation, in an effort to give back during a time when many people are isolated.
"It's a lot harder to be able give back right now, but not a more important time to give back," said Adam Thielen. "You can't go and do in person visits … but we figured this was the best way to affect as many people, families, youth as possible throughout this [pandemic]."
Jennie-O Turkey Store, which is owned by Austin, Minn.-based Hormel Foods Corp., on Tuesday donated 2,000 birds to the Salvation Army, which will provide the main course in more than 20,000 meals.
That's twice as many birds as the food company and Thielen Foundation donated last year, when Adam and Caitlin were able to attend the Salvation Army's Thanksgiving meal.
Like many other food pantries, the Salvation Army is switching from its traditional hot meals to a turkey distribution model this year due to COVID-19. The turkeys are available for pickup now through Thanksgiving.
Area food banks reported a spike in Minnesotans seeking help once funds for the federal unemployment bonus that was a part of the economic relief package expired in late summer.
Second Harvest Heartland reports that high unemployment has left one in eight Twin Cities residents hungry, with many food shelves experiencing twice as many visits as usual.
Those who receive a turkey from the Salvation Army this year will have to cook it themselves, which is why Caitlin Thielen says Jennie-O's 1-800-TURKEYS hotline could be extra helpful this year.
"People can call whether they're first-time chefs or it's their first time making the Thanksgiving meal without their mom or grandma, they can call and get really good meal prep ideas," Caitlin Thielen said.
Hormel Foods chief executive Jim Snee is on the Thielen Foundation board.