Health and Fitness

Here’s how Oakland ensures no one goes hungry on Thanksgiving

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) — People across the East Bay had a number of free community Thanksgiving dinners to choose from this holiday.

The turkeys are prepped, the gravy is hot and eager hungry bellies are ready, lined up around the block.

“Often, this is a great way to spend at least part of your Thanksgiving,” Tom Huetteman, a senior member of Lake Merritt Methodist Church said.

Huetteman has been coming to Lake Merritt Methodist Church for three decades, the same amount of time this church has given back to Oakland every turkey day.

He says the line of people waiting for food tells a much bigger story about the need in Oakland.

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“What you probably see out there is a lot of elders in our community, they live nearby in some senior housing and they’re struggling paycheck to paycheck, and so these meals and the groceries we provide are critical help to make ends meet,” he said.

Senior Richard Greenlaw lives alone and isn’t in a position to cook a full turkey dinner to himself.

“It isn’t the food, it’s the people, food is everywhere, it’s the people,” Greenlaw said. “You get that good energy, and that is so important, so important because right now, I have PTSD and I’m having nothing but trouble, I almost had a grease fire in the house the other day.”

But none of these to-go meals would be possible without the hard-working volunteers that have given up time with their own families to serve others this Thanksgiving.

“It is about family and this is about a bigger family than my own family,” Sunae Cho, the lead pastor at Lake Merritt Methodist Church said.

VIDEO: An alternative Thanksgiving: Bay Area celebrates the holiday in their unique ways

Meanwhile, Two Star Market, which is owned and operated by four brothers, is celebrating their 20th annual Thanksgiving community dinner.

“It stems from our holiday month of Ramadan and we wanted to use, capitalize on Thanksgiving day – the spirit of giving back and we use this day to give back to the community,” Farouq Alawei, co-owner of Two Star Market said. “If it wasn’t for the community, we wouldn’t be here.”

A welcome, warm meal for Patrice Williams who has been coming to this community dinner for nearly 20 years.

“I didn’t have anywhere else to go during this Thanksgiving,” Williams said.

Just looking for a little relief from inflation, which has hit her family hard.

“They’re so generous, they obviously know what low income people are going through when they don’t have the money to spend on a big Thanksgiving feast for their family,” she said.

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