St. Mary's Food Bank hopes to collect a few thousand more turkeys for Phoenix families in need

Thanksgiving is a time for family, friends and lots of food, but for many Arizonans, a turkey dinner is a luxury they can't afford.

That's why St. Mary's Food Bank in Phoenix is in a rush to get as many turkeys as possible before the holiday. As of Nov. 20, they're short on turkeys and quickly running out of time.

Communities across the country are dealing with a turkey shortage this holiday season, for food banks, that can be an issue when they're relying on donations for families in need.

St. Mary's Food Bank's goal is 12,000 turkeys, and up until recently, they were nine thousand short. Flash forward to Nov. 20, and their "Super Saturday" event with locations across the Valley, they got thousands more, but with less than a week to go until Thanksgiving, they're still about 2,200 short.

"Things have gone up. Gas, food, rent everything. A lot of people on the edge are now coming to St. Mary’s Food Bank this year and your family has a chance to help a family in need," said Jerry Brown with St. Mary's Food Bank.

They are still accepting donations through Nov. 24.

"If you've had a great year and you know everything is taken care of for your family and you have it in your heart to help another family, there's still time to make sure every one of those 12,000-15,000 families will be able to go home with a turkey for Thanksgiving," Brown said.

The food bank is closed on Nov. 21, but will be open on Nov. 22-24.

More information can be found here.

Turkey preparation, health tips

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is OK with vaccinated people gathering for Thanksgiving this year, but they have a warning for those prepping the turkey: Don’t wash it.

It’s the same warning federal food safety experts have been issuing every year since 2005. Washing raw meats raises the risk of cross-contamination and could lead to food poisonings like salmonella and campylobacter.

Such bacteria can be eliminated with thorough cooking. To ensure a turkey is sufficiently cooked, a thermometer can be used to check that the deepest and thickest parts of it have reached 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

As far as storing and using extra turkey, you can do it safely but only for a few days.

The USDA says cooked leftovers should be quickly stored in shallow containers and placed in a refrigerator or freezer for rapid cooling. Consumers should only eat refrigerated leftovers for three to four days.

After that, they recommend throwing it out.

"A general rule of thumb for refrigerator storage for cooked leftovers is 4 days; raw poultry and ground meats, 1 to 2 days," the USDA said.

Food refrigerated for too long risks growing spoilage bacteria. It's unlikely to make you violently ill, but say it might make you nauseous.

Related Stories:

Tune in to FOX 10 Phoenix for the latest news: