The Beacon staff says cost of living means more people needing Thanksgiving meals each year

In collaboration with Festival Foods, Beef Butter BBQ, Liliana’s and Clausen’s Bakery, The Beacon was able to serve more than 250 guests for lunch on Thanksgiving Day.

Lead guest service specialist Joel Girard said this is the most people they’ve served in the past three years they’ve held a Thanksgiving feast. Girard attributes that, in part, to the fact that “the cost of living is very expensive.”

Guest Lonnie Little, who has been coming to The Beacon for the past two years, said, “To see more people struggling without housing and having to go someplace for dinner, that concerns me.”

Little has also seen the number of people served on Thanksgiving increase each year.

Little said he struggled financially after getting into a car crash in 2017. He said the expensive medical costs drained his bank account, and he was never able to financially recover.

Girard said Little’s story is similar to many of the stories he hears at The Beacon.

“It’s hard for our guests to be able to find a place,” Girard said. “I think we are like a 3-4% vacancy rate in Dane County. We have quite a few guests who are in school full time and also working a job and a half and still have a hard time coming up with the money for that down payment, if they can even find housing.”

Girard said unless wages keep up with the rising cost of rent, he expects to see even more people show up in need of a Thanksgiving meal and a place to go next year.

“Unless that changes, and there are more available spaces for our guests, where are they going to go? That’s what we are here for and that’s what we are to do.”

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