Thanksgiving feast to be prepared for less fortunate

By Laura Diamond

For many, Thanksgiving is a time to catch up with family and friends and huddle around the television watching football. For others, it’s a time to help ensure a great holiday for the less fortunate in the community.

Collegian File Photo

Kate’s Kitchen in Holyoke, Not Bread Alone in Amherst and MANNA Soup Kitchen at Edwards Church of Northampton, all work hard to prepare and serve a Thanksgiving feast meant to provide happiness, gratification and, of course, a delicious meal for people of the area.

Bob Saalfrank, the program director and cook of MANNA Soup Kitchen, will be using 32 turkeys, 17 hams, 250 pounds of potatoes, 100 pounds of butternut squash, seven cases of cranberry sauce, a case and a half of pineapple to go with the hams and 17 cans of stuffing to prepare the Thanksgiving meal this year. About half of this massive amount of food goes to the 200 to 300 people who come to the church to eat while the other half gets delivered to people who are unable to make it out.

In order to cook everything in time, Saalfrank has to wake up at 4 a.m. every day during the week of Thanksgiving. However, he said, he always manages to finish by the time Thursday comes around and has a great time helping alongside their volunteers.

Meanwhile, at Kate’s Kitchen, the main concern isn’t the preparation of the food, but the number of volunteers.

“We’re very lucky that the Knights of Columbus, Fairview in Chicopee prepare everything for our Thanksgiving,” Mary Jane Dupot said. “We just have to make sure we have enough to take care of everyone.”

About 100 people are predicted to show up at this Holyoke kitchen for Thanksgiving this year. Though they do have a list of people who call in to volunteer for Thanksgiving, Kate’s Kitchen accepts walk-ins as well. Dupot went on to express the necessity of volunteers, especially on the weekends. They also have clothing and food drives to further help people in the area.

At Not Bread Alone, the ambiance is festive and upbeat, according to Hannah Elliott.

“Usually there’s a real party atmosphere and people have a really good time,” Elliott said. “The only challenges are getting all the food cooked by two o’clock and getting the place cleaned up once everything’s over.”

Not Bread Alone is thinking of roasting five turkeys this year along with many vegetables and a wide assortment of vegetarian options. While they’re expecting around 60 people for Thanksgiving, they’re always thinking about the variability from year to year, especially since more people have been showing up lately. Although Thanksgiving tends to be a pretty popular day for volunteers, they always have room for more.

“This meal is open to everyone, no matter what town they’re from or what they do for a living,” Elliott added. “Everyone is welcome and we hope a lot of people come.”

Laura Diamond can be reached at [email protected]