Within one hour of opening its doors, four of the 11 locations for Team Feed Flagler’s Community Thanksgiving ran out of food Wednesday, Nov. 21. Hidden Trails Community Center, First United Methodist Church of Bunnell, the Wickline Center and Mount Calvary Baptist Church all had to be replenished with food. In its fourth year, the community dinner served 3,500 meals, including a Thanksgiving Day meal at Bunnell City Hall.
Enough food was prepared to feed 3,800 people total, 800 more than last year. The leftover food was given to Grace Community Food Pantry.
“We could not do this without the volunteers. Time and time again, they have stepped up,” said Milissa Holland, Feed Flagler organizer.
One of those volunteers is Hammock Dunes Executive Chef Jason Hall, who with volunteers from his staff, eight culinary students from Matanzas High School and two Boy Scouts prepared 1,950 pounds of turkey, 760 pounds of ham, 740 pounds of both corn and green beans, 60 gallons of gravy, and 423 pounds of pumpkin pie, in addition to mashed potatoes and stuffing.
“Each year, it gets easier, and I am pleased to be able to be part of this,” said Hall, as he stood in the kitchen at Buddy Taylor Middle School. “I couldn’t do it without the volunteers, my staff at the club here helping and the support staff that stayed at the club getting ready for Thanksgiving there.”
In addition to the hot meal, 523 boxes containing a week's worth of groceries were handed out between all the locations, thanks to the countywide food drive.
“It’s really about educating the community that hunger is an issue in Flagler County, that it is something residents face every day, not just on holidays,” Holland said.
Holland said she hopes to encourage a continuation of giving throughout the year. One business that will be alongside Team Feed Flagler for that is Panera Bread, which has adopted the organization.
“It says a lot about our business community,” Holland said.