Thanksgiving & The Loads Of Leftovers

As October has officially come to an end, we begin to creep into November and the cold that comes along with it! Not only are we very quickly approaching winter, but Thanksgiving too! This can be an exciting time for people where family or friends get together, but it can also be a time of stress for others. 2020 and 2021 have been very different years that have brought difficulties to so many families and individuals, which then can make this holiday even more stressful. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, food insecurity in the United States was on the decline, but has since began to increase again according to Feeding America’s recent studies into “The Impact of the Coronavirus on Food Insecurity in 2020 and 2021”. Feeding America also estimates and projects that 1 in 8 adults and 1 in 6 children could be facing food insecurity this year. For those in rural eastern Montana facing food insecurity, it can be even more difficult as there are not as many resources and programs compared to bigger, more urban areas.

But, even with the rising concerns of food insecurity in the United States and the holiday season approaching, there are still ways to maximize food that can be found in food pantries, ways to use the Thanksgiving leftovers to plan even more meals, and places and resources to seek guidance and help.

Here, in Richland County, there are many options for food assistance. Different programs that are offered include WIC and SNAP. These two programs do not apply to everyone, reach out to the Richland County Health Department as they can provide more guidance. Other local resources to seek food assistance include the Richland County Food Bank, Fairview Food Bank, Yellowstone Community Church, and the Same Day Emergency Food Assistance Program through the Fellowship Food Pantry. These local opportunities can help ease stress and worry that come along with the holidays and food insecurity.

Buying frozen or canned produce can make your vegetables last a lot longer than fresh produce and a bonus is that the cooking time is reduced! They can be a cheaper alternative when making sides for your Thanksgiving meal. The local food banks also provide shelf stable food that can be used for your holiday meals as well.

So now what happens to all of those leftovers? The holiday season typically comes with more food than is normally cooked in the household, so then food waste tends to follow. Finding ways to use those leftovers without eating the same Thanksgiving meal for the next few weeks is important! Freezing is a great way to save those leftovers. Portioning food into freezer safe containers to take to work or to have when it has been a long day and you want a quick meal can be an easy way to save it! Making casseroles with the leftovers or even making leftover wraps can be a tasty way to reduce food waste and save money during and after the holidays!

For more information on resources, recipes, and ideas for this holiday season to minimize waste, using food and leftovers to the fullest, amongst many other things, check out the Richland County Nutrition Coalition Facebook page at, and the Pinterest page at For more information on food insecurity and how COVID-19 has impacted families and individuals across the United States, please follow the link provided,


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