MECOSTA COUNTY — For many, Thanksgiving is a time to gather around the table with friends and family for a hot meal and good conversation.

However, as the holiday approaches, local food pantries know not everyone has access to a turkey feast.

Diane Long, executive director with Project Starburst in Big Rapids, said it is common for them to see an increase in need for food from people in the community around the holidays.

"We have a lot more calls around Thanksgiving," she said. "We try to give out holiday-type meals, like instant potatoes, for example."

Project Starburst is a nonprofit food bank which serves people in Mecosta and Osceola counties.

Long said there are no restrictions on who can come to the food bank for support, but people are limited to 20 meals per person, per family, each month.

"They can use us as much as they need us," she said.

Long explained food and supplies for the pantry come from a combination of United Way funding, grant money and donations from the community, which allows them to feed thousands of area residents a year.

"Last year we served about 3,190 families," she said.

Although Project Starburst experiences an increase in need from people for food around Thanksgiving, Bonnie Clark, executive director with Manna Pantry of Big Rapids, said the demand stays about the same this time of year.

"We don't really see an increase in requests around the holidays," Clark said. "We do see an increase in donations this time of year though."

She added people from around the area have started to bring in turkeys and other holiday-type items for the emergency food pantry, which can provide one week's worth of food for families in Mecosta and Osceola counties up to four times per year.

"We run on donations mostly and food from the community and churches," Clark said. "We have very generous donors."

As both Project Starburst and Manna Pantry run primarily on donations, Clark and Long said they are appreciative of those who bring in food when they are able.

"This time of year, there are a lot of groups that do food drives for us," Long said. "It's amazing."