With the holidays rapidly approaching, local food banks are desperate for donations to help feed hundreds of families in search of a holiday meal.

The Harker Heights Food Care Center will hand out food baskets with all the holiday must-haves and host dinners at the First Baptist Church in Heights.

“Turkey and ham are of course going to be the biggest items that we need,” food center director Linda Dawson said. “Other items we need are mashed potatoes, vegetables, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, stuffing and dessert. Plates, napkins and plastic ware would come in handy, too.”

With the help of local churches, businesses and the community, the center was able to feed nearly 400 people for Christmas and Thanksgiving last year.

Currently, however, the pantry is bare, Dawson said.

The center has taken a major hit recently as its main contributor, Capital Area Food Bank of Austin, which provides 80 percent of its inventory, is in short supply.

The center’s limited amount of space makes matters even worse, Dawson said.

“There’s only so much that I can order, so even if they tell me I can order 12 cases of meat, I don’t have the room to hold it.”

Typically, she said, no more than six cases can fit in the freezer; barely enough to feed the 50 or 60 families coming in each week.

The Nolanville Food Pantry also turns out tons of food each month, serving an average of 200 people.

During the holidays, director Mary Faye McDonald makes sure those in need get the proper provisions, even if it means purchasing them herself.

“Last year when we ran out of turkey, we went to Walmart and bought the 2-pound turkey roast with gravy,” she said.

McDonald is optimistic shelves will be stocked in time for the holidays. But with a low food supply and small storage space, she can’t say for sure.

“It’s all going to depend on what we get. We’re in pretty good shape with our standard canned products but we hope to also have some produce.”

The Nolanville pantry moved to a new location on Main Street in 2012, which McDonald is certain will generate even more traffic this holiday season.

“I know there’s going to be more (people) this year because our clientele has doubled since we moved,” she said. “And with the economy the way it’s been, we don’t know what the future’s going to be.”

To donate, call the Harker Heights Food Care Center at 254-813-5333 or the Nolanville Food Pantry at 254-698-6820.

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