IRVINE, Calif.—Second Harvest Food Bank is preparing meals that will be given out to the less fortunate on Thanksgiving Day with hopes of feeding 7,000 households.
On the first of three days of packing the meals, about 50 volunteers turned out to help.
“What makes this so special is this is community serving community,” said Harald Herrmann, CEO of Second Harvest Food Bank of Orange County, during the Nov. 19 packing event.
“The organizations that have come together to do this work represent the best of Orange County, the best of humanity, and the best of the community. Nothing exemplifies that more than coming together to feed those on Thanksgiving that might need a little bit of extra help during these difficult times.”
Once packaged in cardboard boxes, the food will be distributed on Thanksgiving Day at a drive-thru line at Anaheim’s Honda Center. This would have been the organization’s 34th year of hosting a sit-down holiday dinner inside the Honda Center, but plans were changed due to COVID-19 guidelines.
“I heard that 50 million people are going to be in need this Thanksgiving,” said Honda Center Chief Executive Officer Tim Ryan. “For us to be able to take care of 7,000 just means we're doing our part here in Orange County.”
Each family who attends the Thanksgiving drive-thru will receive a box of four heat-and-serve meals, which include turkey, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, gravy, and vegetables.
They will also get a box of produce, a box of shelf-stable foods, a Thanksgiving pie, and some Hawaiian bread. It adds up to 75 pounds of food per car.
The volunteer packaging event was originally meant to be held inside Second Harvest Food Bank, but recent COVID-19 health restrictions required organizers to move it outside to the parking lot.
As the volunteers began to pack away the food, they formed two assembly lines. Teams worked together on both sides of a table to unbox food from larger wholesale boxes, place each type of food item in smaller boxes, tape the boxes, and then neatly place them on a pallet to be taken inside, where they would be stored at proper temperatures.
Herrmann noted there was a high probability that the event was going to be canceled originally due to COVID shutdowns, but after talking with Kevin Draper, president of partnering organization We Give Thanks, they decided to work past any issues that arose.
Draper made a decision very quickly, said Herrmann.
"Not this year—not ever, but certainly not this year—is this event going to be compromised," he said. "We need to absolutely come together to be here for the community on Thanksgiving.”