Isn’t it amazing how food seems to be at the epicenter of every holiday, gathering and celebration? Think about it. If we played a game show called “Name that event” you could likely, with laser accuracy, associate a food with that particular holiday or celebration. From barbeques during summer gatherings to cake for – well, any occasion – food unites us and brings us together. November is the time of year that many people think about coming together for Thanksgiving and sharing a meal with family and friends. One of the most popular items on the menu at Thanksgiving is of course, turkey.
Many families may debate the best way to prepare a turkey. Some prefer letting it bake slowly in the oven, with butter, herbs and spices that release a smell that fills your home, and makes it feel just a tad cozier than the day before. Others prefer to deep fry their turkeys, looking for a quicker cooking time and way to free up oven space for all those side dishes, like stuffing, sweet potatoes, and green bean casserole. If I close my eyes I can remember as a child being in my Grandparents home and waiting with eager anticipation to join the dozens of family members that travelled to Chicago to put aside everything happening in their/our respective lives, and for that one day, simply enjoy an incredible meal- and the love and company of one another.
We want to ensure that all families have the opportunity to have “debates” like the one I just listed above instead of the debate about WHAT they might be able to eat on Thanksgiving since they simply cannot afford a turkey and full Thanksgiving meal. We know that this year everyone is struggling with higher prices due to inflation. In fact, a report released on Nov. 1 noted that this year the price tag to put a Thanksgiving meal on the table this year will cost 14.9% MORE than just one year ago. Thankfully, the St. Louis Area Foodbank will be there to help thousands of families this year.
Five years ago, the Foodbank started an event the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, aptly named, “Thanksgiving Together” to ensure that families across the bi-state region would have the opportunity to enjoy a healthy and hearty feast on Thanksgiving Day. I am awestruck by the fact that this incredible team has taken an idea – one day, one location providing a feast to 500 families – and has grown it to become a two-day event, at 20 locations, providing a Thanksgiving feast to 4,000 families this year!
We are also thankful for the opportunity to be the official partner with Ameren and Holidays in St. Louis for the annual Thanksgiving Day Parade. This year, the Foodbank will have a huge float in the parade, surrounded by volunteers, pantry partners, friends, and family, celebrating the network and the hard work being done by thousands every year, to truly strengthen our community. It is a wonderful way to express our gratitude to everyone that makes our work possible, as well as raise awareness and funds to continue our critical work.
This Thanksgiving, as I reflect and write what I am grateful for on our “Thankful Pumpkin” (a tradition I started with my daughter when she was very young), I will capture my gratitude for every team member at that Foodbank that works tirelessly each day to make a difference. I will share my gratitude for our volunteers and our incredible network of partners that bring food and hope to tens of thousands every year. I will remember how grateful I am for our donors – individuals, companies and foundations who support us with generous financial gifts so we may continue our work. I will share my gratitude for the farmers, stores, and companies that donate or collect food that comes to the Foodbank so we can fill the shelves of our partner agencies, and thus, the pantries and refrigerators of so many, right here in our community.
In short, I am grateful to be a part of an incredible community that cares so deeply for one another – that we band together, and become partners and friends so that together, everyone has the opportunity to gather with family and friends that includes a healthy and nutritious meal.
With a grateful heart,