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Community invited to participate in local Feeding of the 5,000 event

Community invited to participate in local Feeding of the 5,000 event

Posted: Thursday, October 16, 2008 9:06 pm

By CHRIS MENEES Messenger Staff Reporter Thanksgiving dinner is a big undertaking — especially if you’re feeding 5,000. The menu begins with a whopping 300 cooked turkeys, 300 gallons of dressing and 100 gallons of giblet gravy. The feast is complemented by 200 gallons of green beans, 200 gallons of cooked apples, 50 gallons of cranberry sauce, thousands of rolls and 625 pies. To feed such a crowd, volunteers will play key roles in preparing and serving the traditional Thanksgiving meal to those in need throughout the area during the annual Community Feeding of the 5,000 — an effort based on the biblical account of Jesus’ feeding a multitude with a little boy’s meager lunch of fish and bread. This year’s Community Feeding of the 5,000 is set for Nov. 24, with dine-in meals to be served from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Union City First Baptist Church’s Family Life Center at 509 East Church St. Meals will be available for dine-in, carry-out or delivery for those in need throughout the community, as well as for anyone who would benefit from a hot meal and fellowship with others. To submit the name of someone who would benefit from receiving a meal, call 885-2704 or 335-0292. Meal co-coordinator Hattie Lou Brown, a member of Union City First Baptist Church, said organizers of the effort are “reaching out” to all of the area senior citizens groups — including those in Obion, Lake, Weakley and Dyer counties — and are utilizing many other ministries, churches, agencies and resources that help meet the needs of seniors or families in need throughout the community. She added that local residents may also contact the Obion County Senior Citizens Center if they know of a senior who would benefit from receiving a meal through the Community Feeding of the 5,000. Organizers note that while the pre-Thanksgiving event has traditionally been held on Tuesdays in the past, it has been moved to a Monday this year. Another change is the exchange of the sweet potatoes that were served in past years for the cooked apples to be served this year. How to help Mrs. Brown said quite a few donations and offers for food preparation have been received but the number is not yet quite as high as organizers would like. Many more volunteers are needed. “There’s quite a bit coming in, but not like is needed,” said Mrs. Brown, who is serving in the co-coordinator capacity with Kimberly Elliott of South Fulton, who heads food services at a Martin school. The immediate need for the Community Feeding of the 5,000 is for volunteers to offer to prepare many of the items on the menu — turkey, dressing, gravy, green beans, cooked apples, cranberry sauce or pies without meringue — or to make a monetary donation to purchase groceries that will be given to those in need on Nov. 24. Monetary donations may be mailed to Community Feeding of the 5,000, P.O. Box 354, Union City, TN 38281. “We can do a nice bag of groceries for $10,” Mrs. Brown said. Volunteers who would like to prepare food items or help in other ways are also asked to call 885-2704 or 335-0292 to confirm what food items they should prepare or to tell in what capacity they would like to work. Mrs. Brown said calling to confirm in regard to food preparation is very important in order for all food items to be covered and not to be duplicated in excess. “We need an idea of what’s coming in,” she said. For example, she noted that 5,000 servings of dressing have already been committed, including 2,500 servings from the local schools and 2,500 from local cook Wanda Wyatt, who cooks for the host church’s Family Night meals. One local church with 200 members has even committed to baking 100 pies, which Mrs. Brown said is “astounding.” “A lot of churches are doing 100 pies. It’s coming along,” she said. For cooks’ convenience, Union City First Baptist Church has purchased a bulk quantity of institutional-size cans of both green beans and apples. Volunteers may choose to purchase the cans for a nominal fee at the church’s Family Life Center for convenience in preparing large amounts of the required beans and cooked apples. With the exception of the pies, the prepared food for the meal should be delivered to the church’s Family Life Center by 7 a.m. Nov. 24. Pies only must be delivered to the church by 10 a.m. Nov. 22, the Saturday preceding the Monday meal. Outgoing meals will be packed and the first delivery meals ready by 9 a.m. Nov. 24. Mrs. Brown said Union City First Baptist Church is blessed to have two kitchens, with the packing of the carry-out meals to be done at the older kitchen in the main church building and the serving of dine-in meals starting at 11 a.m. to be done in the newer kitchen in the church’s Family Life Center. “We’ll be packing at one place and ready to serve at the other,” she said. It takes a community Volunteers who wish to help with packing or serving the meals can arrive at the church any time throughout the day Nov. 24. Mrs. Brown said some local banks even have employees who come to volunteer on their lunch hours. “People come whenever they can,” she said. In preparation for this year’s Community Feeding of the 5,000, a set-up day has been scheduled for Nov. 22 at Union City First Baptist Church’s Family Life Center. Local Scouts will join a host of volunteers to pack grocery bags for those in need, while other volunteers will set up tables or slice pies for the meal. Volunteers will also be welcome any time throughout the day on the set-up day, according to Mrs. Brown. She noted that students from Union City Elementary, Union City Middle School and Union City High School will be collecting canned goods and non-perishable food items. Last year, students collected 10,000 cans. “It takes many hours to sort the 10,000 cans of food,” Mrs. Brown said. Last year, 600 bags of groceries were given away to those in need. Any leftover grocery items are donated to the local Chimes for Charity project, which helps less fortunate families at Christmas. “Nothing goes to waste, nothing just sits there. We feel good about that,” Mrs. Brown said. She emphasized that community involvement — which includes local churches, ministerial alliances, civic organizations, women’s clubs, businesses and individuals — is vital to the success of the Community Feeding of the 5,000. More than 5,000 meals were served last year and she still expects to distribute at least 5,000 meals this year. “It is community involvement. We can’t stress that too much,” she said. ——— Staff Reporter Chris Menees may be contacted by e-mail at cmenees@ucmessenger.com. Published in The Messenger 10.16.08

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