As families make last minute trips to the grocery store in preparation for Thanksgiving, organizations around Jersey City are getting ready for one of the biggest food drives of the year with plans to feed thousands around the community.
One of the organizations providing Thanksgiving dinners is Mercy Nonprofit in association with South Hudson Civic Association, the Fountain of Salvation Church, and local students.
Riaz Wahid, who has been part of the joint effort since its inception, said “Everyone has a role,” which has been finely tuned over the nine years they have been making food for the community. Volunteer students from McNair High School’s Honor Society and Hudson County Community College fill in the gaps as they help with the preparation and packaging of the meals.
Because Mercy feeds the homeless population of Jersey City on a daily basis, they have made many connections with vendors and volunteers. For this yearly event, they call on those resources to supply special goods for the 1,500 meals they plan to give away. For instance, Dale Davies, owner of Stony Hill Farms, provides the holiday’s iconic pumpkin pies.
With plans to give out hundreds of meals at its location at 324 Communipaw Ave., volunteers from the Fountain of Salvation Church begin cooking two days in advance. On Wednesday, Nov. 23, the first 500 meals will go out to seniors and the homeless. On Thanksgiving Day, the church will deliver the remaining 1000 meals to refugees, the homeless, and anyone else in need of a warm holiday meal.
Other organizations throughout Jersey City are offering free Thanksgiving meals and turkeys as well. For the 26th consecutive year, Monique Techniques and the Mo’Hair Foundation will host a Community Thanksgiving Dinner Feast at the Mary McLeod Bethune Center where people can enjoy the nourishment either on site or via takeout.
Monique Smith-Andrews, founder of the event, had planned to make 2021 her last year, but she said, “I reached out to some organizations, and it just triggered a ripple effect, ‘Oh we want to help!’.”
Starting in March, Smith-Andrews gathered a coalition of 20 organizations, including the Municipal Council, to help.
“It’s gonna be bigger than it ever has been!”
Running from 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., the dinner will feature a band, seating for 250, and takeaway meals for many more. The group will also deliver 800 meals to senior citizens. Altogether, with the help she received from the other organizations, Smith-Andrews expects to feed 2,000 people, double last year’s number. Some of the prep and delivery shifts begin as early as 6:30 a.m.
Finally, the Jersey City Police Department will be running a turkey giveaway and food drive the afternoon of Tuesday, Nov. 22, at their West District location.
To volunteer with Mercy Nonprofit and its partners, contact Riaz Wahid at 201-699-7608 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
To assist Monique Smith-Andrews, readers can sign up at ttsu.me/communitythanksgiving2022.
Those wishing to donate canned foods and non-perishable items to the Jersey City Police Department’s drive can drop them off at 1 Jackson St.
Photo by Monstera