For the third year, several organizations in the Metro East came together to supply families in need with a traditional Thanksgiving meal.

This year, they handed out 1,000 frozen turkeys; 500 in Alton and another 500 in Granite City.

In Granite City many of the turkeys were given to laid-off US Steel workers who have been off the job for nearly a year.

The cuts started in October 2015 and escalated through January 2016.

By now, most — if not all — of the laid off workers have exhausted the 26 weeks of unemployment benefits.

Depending on how long they worked at the plant, a large number of employees are about to lose their health insurance coverage if they haven’t already.

According to union representatives, the lines at food pantries are growing as more and more laid off workers are coming to grips with their pride and swallowing it in order to put food on the table.

This has been the longest shut down of the plant in recent memory for employees that have worked at it for the last three decades.

None of them expected it to last this long.

But they may only have to wait a little while longer.

In the summer of 2016, the federal government began applying tariffs to foreign made steel that raised its cost to a more competitive level.

Once the current amount of cheaper foreign steel already stockpiled in the U.S. is expended, the hope is the plant will need to begin producing again, and employees will be back to work.

That could be sometime in 2017. Optimistic yet conservative estimates put that happening late in the first quarter of the year, or early summer.