Community continues to gives back for holiday season amid the pandemic

Groups look for new ways to hand out Thanksgiving meals during pandemic

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - More people are in need this holiday season. While safety protocols have made it hard for Thanksgiving meal giveaways some of the large giveaways in Memphis will continue the tradition this year.

“We’re tripling and quadrupling the amount of food we’re distributing,” said Mid-South Food Bank President and CEO Cathy Pope.

Since April the Mid-South Food Bank has distributed four to six million pounds of food a month. This holiday season the amount of food-insecure people in the Mid-South has increased more than 50%.

“We ordered more turkeys to distribute to our partner agencies and we made them smaller because we know there are going to be less people at each table,” said Pope.

Thanksgiving will look different this year for many families because of the pandemic. Those organizations who help serve the homeless and less fortunate on the holiday are having to adjust plans too.

Westy’s restaurant in Downtown Memphis put a new plan in place to serve its free Thanksgiving lunch, but it was never an option to cancel.

“It’s not even a consideration. We had to rethink how we are going to do it of course and where the money comes from to pay for it,” said Westy’s Owner Jack Schorr.

The Westy’s meal will be served outside instead of inside and will work more like the grab and go concept. Volunteers will keep social distancing in the line, masks will be handed out and temperatures will be checked.

Similar Thanksgiving meals have moved outside in the age of COVID-19. The second annual MemFeast will be outside with meals being distributed around the city via food trucks.

Schorr said people have stepped up with donations this year like in years past. He said while logistics had to be changed, this is no year to give up on these kinds of events.

“It’s needed. We always want to give back,” said Schorr. “We all give back in our own way. This certainly is a year to not stop.”

Looking toward Christmas, the Mid-South Food Bank and WMC’s annual Holiday Food Drive has moved online. You can donate here.

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