Saturday, January 28, 2023

Annual Community Thanksgiving Dinner Sets New Record Providing Over 1,000 Meals to Mendocino Coast Residents

The following is a press release issued by the First Presbyterian Church of Fort Bragg:


A family volunteers working to provide over 1,000 residents with Thanksgiving Dinner [All photographs provided by Monica Steinisch]

For the 26th year, the First Presbyterian Church of Fort Bragg sponsored a free Thanksgiving dinner for Mendocino coast residents. The event this year served a record-breaking 1,065 free meals, eclipsing last year’s record of 1,000 meals—and a marked increase over the previous year’s 800. In addition to feeding many food-insecure households, many of the meals went to people who, regardless of finances, would not otherwise have had a traditional Thanksgiving dinner.  

The dinners, reserved ahead of time, were either picked up at the church (367 S. Sanderson Way, Fort Bragg) or delivered to homes by volunteers—20 teams of drivers and navigators. Drivers for Parents and Friends delivered 70 meals to the organization’s clients. And, in partnership with the Fort Bragg Food Bank, meals were also distributed at accessible sites throughout the coast, so that those without an address for home delivery or without transportation to the church could still receive a meal. 

The entirely volunteer effort came together through the hard work of 116 volunteers (not including delivery drivers), who worked a combined total of more than 500 hours leading up to and including Thanksgiving Day, planning, procuring, publicizing, preparing, cooking, packaging, cleaning, assembling, directing traffic and distributing meals. Many volunteers have made this endeavor part of their Thanksgiving tradition, returning each year to share and receive the positive energy of the day. 

As in recent years, the kitchen was led by Lynn Derrick, of Queenie’s Roadhouse Café in Elk, who, assisted by Chief Steward Scott Shepley, planned a delicious and nutritious traditional Thanksgiving dinner, which included turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans, cranberry sauce, dinner roll, juice, and pumpkin pie or other festive dessert. Desserts were provided by Harvest Market, Safeway, and A Sweet Affair Patisserie through a mix of donations made by each business and the generous donations of “dessert dollars” made by community members at these businesses in the weeks leading up to this holiday event. Another 25 pumpkin pies came from the Fort Bragg High School Culinary Arts Program, whose students, supervised by teacher Amy Valla, prepared the pies for the Community Thanksgiving Dinner. High school staff donated the cost of making the pies, with those funds going back into the program.

Chris, Dede, Vickie, and Marsha serving up pumpkin pie

“The annual Community Thanksgiving dinner is such a heartwarming springboard into the holiday season of sharing,” said Printha Worthen, lead event coordinator. “The event is a true community endeavor, with businesses and individuals from within our coastal community—of all faiths, backgrounds, and means—coming together in the spirit of giving and receiving to celebrate our gratitude and appreciation for each other and this special place we call home.”

The event planning committee extend their heartfelt thanks to everyone who made this year’s event possible, including the many businesses who ensured there was ample food to share, the radio stations and news outlets who spread the word far and wide, the agencies that helped ensure that everyone who needed a meal received one, and the volunteers who so willingly donated their time and talents in such a wide variety of ways.

A video of this year’s Community Thanksgiving Dinner, which catches the action and spirit of the event, is posted on the church’s website (https://fbpchurch.org). 

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MendoFever Staff
MendoFever Staff
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