Chapel Hill-Carrboro’s Interfaith Council is asking for your help as more families than ever are in need of a holiday meal this season.

Executive Director Chris Moran says he’s seen a 52 percent increase from last year in families using the food pantry, with 2,560 households participating.

“That number keeps going up every month, and when it goes up we need more food to meet the demand,” he said.

Those wishing to help out can donate a meal by paying $25 for a Holiday Meal Coupon, which provides a turkey or ham, vegetables, stuffing, bread and dessert for one family.

Last holiday season the IFC, which depends largely on public support, was able to use $19,000 in donations to provide 761 meals to 2,245 people. Moran says he hopes to have enough money to distribute 800 meals this year at cost of $20,000, but so far the funds haven’t come in like they did last season.

“They’re a little bit behind this year, maybe due to the economy or the odd time for Thanksgiving,” he said. “People’s support is sort of divided.”

Despite being behind on collections, the group is prepping to dole out 400 meals this week for Thanksgiving.

“Normally we get more around Thanksgiving than we do in December,” Moran said. “I’m hoping for the opposite this time.”

Pitching in for a holiday meal isn’t the only way to help, however. You can donate essential items (canned vegetables, cereal, pasta, paper bags, diapers) that are increasingly needed, especially as the price of groceries continues to rise.