BERKELEY, Calif. - The last-minute rush to prepare Thanksgiving meals was slightly different this year, as Bay Area shoppers faced higher prices and a return for many to gatherings with friends and family now that COVID-19 vaccines have allowed people to interact more and lowered the risk of getting serious illness from the coronavirus pandemic.
At Star Grocery store in Berkeley, employees had prepared for a steady stream of shoppers Wednesday.
"We got a shipment of like what was it, 60 pies yesterday? And this is all we have left now," said Ocean Fonseca Jensen, Star Grocery employee, "Down to four. And then you can see on our bread shelf, it's completely empty. By 2 p.m. it was all gone...We close early today. So, we're down to pretty much the last pickings of stuff."
One shopper had returned for a second time in the day to pick up more items.
"In the morning I got coffee and I also got some canned pumpkin cause my daughter is going to make a gluten-free pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving," said Nell Friedman of Berkeley.
Many shoppers said they noticed prices are a little higher this year.
"Everything in general is a little more expensive," said Olie Luchitsky of Alameda who added that she's driving around more now to find bargains, "I'll by something at Safeway that's better priced, something at Trader Joe's that's better priced, something somewhere else like Grocery Outlet. Shopping is usually a three-hour trip."
The American Farm Bureau says a typical Thanksgiving meal for ten will be about $53 dollars. That is 14% higher than last year, in part due to higher costs of labor, transportation, and animal feed.
The prices impact groups such as San Francisco's Meals on Wheels, which saw an increase in costs of more than 11%. They made 6,500 meals for seniors this Thanksgiving holiday, the most ever in the non-profit's 51-years.
Those people who are cooking their own meals say they are saving some money by having smaller gatherings. After last year's pandemic shutdown, many said they don't want to miss out on the traditional feast.
"We've been doing Russian food so it's going to be my first American turkey," said Luchitsky who said she and her family ended up ordering their meals from a Whole Foods store and are looking forward to trying turkey with mashed potatoes, stuffing and other traditional trimmings.
Lennox Bolden-Anderson, 5, was shopping at an Alameda Safeway store with his parents Wednesday evening. He has his Thanksgiving favorites but knows this year's meal will be a little different.
"What's different we're going to have ice cream and gumbo. Last year we had something different," said Lennox.
Like many families, his parents say they plan to get together with friends but stay close to home.
"My wife's family is from Seattle so we usually go up there but this year with the pandemic we're here, so we'll be spending with friends this year rather than with our normal family," said Lennox's father Jason Bolden-Anderson.
Jana Katsuyama is a reporter for KTVU. Email Jana at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter @JanaKTVU or Facebook @NewsJana or ktvu.com.
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