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A turkey giveaway with no turkeys: How a shipping error resulted in confusion for Dover families

Emily Lytle
Dover Post

Tracy Palmer Ministries, a nonprofit organization in Dover, planned to host a turkey giveaway at its new food pantry on Oct. 31 at noon.

But when cars lined up at noon as far as 5 miles down the road, the group had no turkeys to hand out.

Founder Tracy Palmer said she had arranged a shipment of 1,200 turkeys from Blessings of Hope — a wholesale food bank based in central Pennsylvania — to the food pantry on Cassidy Drive, south of the old Blue Hen Mall.

The night before the giveaway, she heard that the shipment would be delayed until 2:30 or 3 p.m. 

Tracy Palmer, founder of Tracy Palmer Ministries, has organized several other community giveaways in Dover over the years. Here, she partnered with Alisha Broughton for an event on Legislative Mall in August.

Blessings of Hope CEO David Lapp confirmed this delayed schedule and said the truck did not actually arrive in Dover until 6 p.m. due to a miscommunication between the truck driver and the trucking company.

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Blessings of Hope believed the shipment was on schedule after the trucking company mistakenly told the food bank's dispatcher that the truck had left at 11 a.m., Lapp said.

"There were a few breakdowns in our system and I apologize for that," he said. "We are trying to figure out what happened and are putting checks and balances in place for this to not happen in the future."

When a shipment of nearly 1,300 boxes finally arrived that evening, Palmer's team checked the contents, and each included a variety of produce, dairy and meat – but no turkeys.

“It was so embarrassing and so humiliating,” Palmer said.

Lapp said the shipment assigned to Palmer's outreach event included USDA Farmers to Families food boxes packed by Seashore Fruit & Produce.

"We distributed over 250,000 of these boxes in the last six weeks and they were all very similar," he said. "However, none of these boxes had turkeys in that I am aware of."

Palmer said she had spoken with two people at Blessings of Hope who confirmed that she would be receiving turkeys. She said she believes her order got confused with another organization's and was sent to an address in Milford by mistake.

The day after the giveaway, she posted a Facebook Live and apologized to the community.

“From now on, I will not plan anything until I have the product in my hand and I can examine what is being delivered,” she said.

She said there were likely 1,000 people waiting for turkeys, and some people left and came back two or three times. She walked down the road to explain the situation to the cars waiting. 

Palmer recorded Facebook Live videos to connect with community members, and she encouraged anyone with questions or concerns to reach out directly to her at (302) 857-0203.

Lapp provided a statement to the community, as well.

"I apologize to everyone who was standing in line for excessive periods of time, and for any disappointments of not receiving turkeys," he said. "I pray that this issue can be resolved peaceably, and everyone was able to still receive the food that they got with gratefulness."