BELOIT (WKOW) -- More families in the School District of Beloit are experiencing homelessness this year -- for a number of reasons, including the pandemic -- so a food pantry is stepping up to help those families put dinner on the table this Thanksgiving.
"Our numbers are way up," said Robin Stuht, the district's homeless liaison. "We've got families living in cars, garages, tents, doubling up, tripling up with other people."
She says this year, so far, the district has 276 families experiencing homelessness.
Many of those students have a place to cook, but without a regular place to stay. Normally, each school helps put together Thanksgiving meals for students -- but with the pandemic, staff can't get together.
That's where Caritas Food Pantry comes in.
Caritas has been experiencing its own increased demand this year due to the pandemic.
"That was the largest October we've had since I've been here," said executive director Max Dodson. "And I've been here three years."
When Stuht reached out, however, Dodson says they got to work -- figuring out where to get money and food to help feed the families.
"We just pulled in resources from everywhere," he said.
Caritas had 125 turkeys on-hand Monday for families to drive through and pick up -- in addition to potatoes, gravy, stuffing and other Thanksgiving staples.
But it was about more than just the meals.
"It allows them a moment to feel normal," Stuht said. "That they're getting to have an experience that all the other families are having."
"In that brief moment of service, there's conversation, a little shared humor, a little shared thankfulness," he said. "It's those moment."
Many of the meals not picked up Monday will be delivered Tuesday.
Caritas is already gearing up to deliver Christmas meals next month.