After 46 years, you’d think the people organizing our annual Thanksgiving Day Community Feast would have their stuff together.
But in an attempt to make a fantastic event even better, they’ve added a few tweaks.
As usual, the meal — hosted by Saugatuck Congregational Church, in collaboration with Temple Israel, the United Methodist Church and Unitarian Church — takes place from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day.
As always, anyone looking to enjoy (and share) a holiday meal is welcome. There is no charge.
Last year, over 325 folks feasted together. The menu includes turkey, stuffing, baked and sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts, carrots and pies — all donated by local merchants and caterers. There’s live entertainment too.
Saugatuck Nursery School makes napkin rings. Coleytown Middle School bakes holiday breads. Temple Israel decorates place mats and banners. The Westport Garden Club provides fruit centerpieces for every table.
More than 150 volunteers — some from the religious institutions involved, others not — make it happen. They shop, prep, cook, serve and clean up.
Those volunteers are key. And that’s where one of the tweaks will make this feast the best ever.
Two volunteer shifts have been added for Wednesday, November 23: the day before Thanksgiving. That allows people with commitments on the holiday to help out too. The shifts start at 2:30 and 4 p.m., and run 90 minutes each.
Also new: head chef Raquel Rivers-Pablo. She epitomizes the volunteer spirit of the Community Feast.
Classically trained at restaurants like Le Bernardin, she’s been recognized for her volunteer work with City Harvest, and attended the launch of Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! campaign at the White House. Chef Raquel has taught cooking and nutrition classes, and been lead chef at the West Side Campaign Against Hunger.
Now, she provides cooking education as part of the Urban Eats Culinary Training Program, and at food pantries, community meal sites, senior centers and Green Village Initiative community gardens.
Chef Raquel’s goal is to spread her love for food with as many people as possible. With all of Westport’s help, she’ll do exactly that next week.
(There are still spots available to help with the Community Feast. Click here to volunteer.)