FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — The hotline Arkansas 211 is reporting an increase in calls for assistance this holiday season.

Dallas Mudd, the executive director for Arkansas 211, said he expects over 2,000 more calls for Thanksgiving-related assistance ahead of Thanksgiving. The year-over-year call volume is up roughly 300%. The winter months normally see the highest call volume. The hotline is working hard to keep up with the volume, with so many in need for Thanksgiving.

“This time of the year, we see a lot of callers about food. What we are able to do is connect those callers to the resources or the food pantries,” said Mudd.

According to Mudd, inflation is escalating the issue of food insecurity. Higher prices are leaving people with few choices on how to make ends meet.

“When food prices are up 8-12%, it’s harder to make those dollars stretch. That’s where we’re able to come in and provide a resource that will help them get by or even provide them some financial coaching,” said Mudd.

Arkansas 211 also receives a lot of calls during the winter months who feel lonely.

“There’s a lot of people that tell us, you’re the first person that has listened to me,” said Mudd.

NWA Equality is a non-profit that provides programs, education and advocacy for the LGBTQIA+ community. On Sunday, the group will provide the opportunity for meaningful connections on the holiday by hosting a Rainbow Thanksgiving. It’s a free, buffet-style meal that encourages everyone to spend time surrounded by people this holiday.

“Not everyone can go home in the LGBTQ community, and it can be a very lonely time. Loneliness is not good for anybody,” said Director of Programs and Advocacy for NWA Equality, Megan Tullock.

The meal runs from 6-9 p.m. Sunday. You can show up at any time to eat and leave or stay the entire time. Tullock is hoping everyone can take advantage of the multi-purpose event.

“You don’t need to prove that you need food. You can just come and eat together with everyone,” said Tullock.

Tullock believes food insecurity in general is an issue and seems to be prevalent in the LGBTQIA+ community.

“The intersectionality of LGBTQ community and poverty is also a major concern for us,” said Tullock.

The Rainbow Thanksgiving is assisted by Tyson Foods, Arsaga’s, Arkansas Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence in partnership with the Bentonville Follies, Free Mom Hugs, Siloam Springs Pride, The Equality Crew, and the Transgender Equality Network.

If you are in need of resources this Thanksgiving and don’t know where to look, call 211. You’ll be connected with a live person to assist you. Wait times normally last two minutes but during peak holiday times, the wait times can be up to eight or nine minutes.

You can find more information about Arkansas 211 here.