State Rep. Stephen Kinsey hosted his annual “Feeding 1000 Thanksgiving Dinner” at the Imhotep Institute Charter School on Saturday.
This year’s dinner marked the third time Kinsey and partners have hosted this event under the “Feeding 1000” name and reached an estimated 700 people, 200 of which had meals delivered to their homes.
“We continue to do this because we recognize there is a great need,” said Kinsey. “Hunger and poverty are prevalent throughout this community. [And] every year we try to find resources and ways to address it.”
Kinsey added the dinner was also an effort to acknowledge the “spirit of the holidays” because some “families in the community won’t be able to sit down for a traditional Thanksgiving meal.”
Another important piece, said Chief of Staff Stacey Wright, was the opportunity for residents to seek out information. Kinsey and one of the event’s partners, State Rep. Dwight Evans, offered informational services.
“They can fill out [service] forms here and tell us what the issue is, instead of calling in,” said Wright. “It serves that purpose as well.”
Several residents said the dinner was a positive for their West Oak Lane neighborhood.
“That’s one meal that doesn’t have to get fixed today,” said William Eiland. “And it’s good for the community because there is so much violence going on. [This] brings people together to speak their mind and get away from all the evilness.”
Tracey Jackson said she learned about the dinner from her child’s school. She, her son and a child she was granted custody of, attended together.
“I am having a rough time — I lost my mom and baby’s father. And I came to see if I could talk to people and get some help,” she said.
Leona Harris, a Germantown resident, said it was nice to “enjoy a good, hot meal. I got to see people I haven’t seen in a while.”
In addition to the eating and fellowship, the dinner was an example of several entities coming together to serve.
Dana Garnett, the head chef, works as the director of food services for Imhotep. The day before the dinner, she spent 12 hours, with the help of student volunteers, culinary instructor Kimberly Gegner and volunteer Tyrika Washington shopping for and preparing the meal — a proper one that consisted of turkey wings and breast, stuffing, macaroni and cheese, candied yams, rice, collard greens, apple pie, sweet potato pie and cakes.
“It’s my life mission to serve,” said Garnett, adding the hours and energy that went into preparing the meal was “so worth it. I will do it again and again.”
The men in the community also came out in significant numbers to help.
Edge, a community service group based in the Northwest, attended with several of their members and supplied security and any other services needed, as Vice President Carl Washington noted, “if they told us to clean the dumpster, we’d do that too.”
The Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. staffed members to prepare the dinner plates and brought 25 students from its Achievement Academy to wait the tables.
Donte Sellers, an 18-year-old member of the Achievement Academy, said it made him feel good to be a part of it.
“I get a heart-warming feeling when I am serving,” he said. “I feel like I am helping out the community.”