OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – With Thanksgiving around the corner, you might encounter an unexpected hiccup at the grocery store.

The staple dish, turkey, is hard to come by, which is something a local healthcare system found out while planning its annual turkey giveaway. 

“We serve the community from all different ways of physical therapy and to the end of life in our hospice organization,” said Dana Keller, with Valir Health. 

Valir is known for its outstanding care and the resources it provides to Oklahomans. That care reaches far beyond patients, especially during the holidays.

Every Thanksgiving,  Valir gives its 500 employees a Thanksgiving feast that includes stuffing, green beans, and turkey.

“It’s a huge undertaking, and so it’s weeks in the planning,” said Keller. 

Last week, Valir was told turkey might not be a possibility, which takes away from the company’s annual tradition.

One of the reasons for the turkey shortage is the bird flu.

According to the USDA, bird flu killed about 5.4 million turkeys in early 2022, causing a turkey shortage. 

“Where are these birds coming from to meet that demand?” said Rodney Holcomb, an OSU Agriculture Economist. “We may have redirect birds that may be used for other purposes just to make sure we have them available for Thanksgiving day.”

Although the bird flu outbreaks have now “diminished,” the losses will likely have an impact through the end of the year, affecting how much you pay for your turkey.

“We’re probably looking at turkeys costing twice as much for this Thanksgiving as they did the last Thanksgiving,” said Holcomb. “Just so happens with the bird flu and the seasonal demand, turkey will be very high this year.”

Bird flu is a big part of that, but Holcomb says this year has been the perfect storm.

Fuel and fertilizer prices have also been extremely high. 

Valir’s Thanksgiving meal will include turkey, but just like all of us, they will pay a pretty penny for it. 

“Our employees work very hard all day, every day,” said Keller. “So, we want Thanksgiving to be something for them to sit back and relax.”