Thanksgiving 2020: Smaller gatherings, more in need

The Minnesota Department of Health is recommending limiting Thanksgiving gatherings to those within your household, making for smaller meals and bigger challenges for nonprofits to access those in need.

Jeff Riley, the owner of Chef Jeff’s catering in Minneapolis, says more people are ordering Thanksgiving meals from him this year, compared to normal years.

“What we hear most on the phone is that they just don’t want to do all of that work for just a few people. They’re just leaving it up to the professionals to do that this year,” Riley’s daughter and business partner, Amber Stewart, said.

Stewart said on Sunday she placed an order for one for Thanksgiving dinner for the first time ever.

“It’s a lot smaller groups so the order sizes have been a lot smaller we’re seeing groups of one groups of four groups of three, traditionally they’ve been much bigger,” Stewart said.

Even with COVID impacting business, Chef Jeff’s is also donating several meals this season.

“People buy a dinner we give a dinner to a couple organizations that we work with,” Riley said.

The need this year is great. PRISM, a food shelf based out of Golden Valley, says their need for food services increased 60 percent this year. Over the weekend, they organized a “1k turkey giveaway” giving out boxes of food to feed more than 5,000 people.

“The need is great and people are struggling,” Major Scott Shelbourn with The Salvation Army said.

The Salvation Army has been providing food for tens of thousands of people throughout the pandemic. Traditionally they host Thanksgiving meals for those in need. Major Shelbourn says they’ll keep doing that this year, but it will look a little different.

“During thanksgiving usually we invite people in to have lunch or thanksgiving dinner at the salvation army so we’re putting that in clam shells or finding other ways to get people food,” Major Shelbourn

Faith Deliverance Holiness Church will be hosting a Thanksgiving meal with help from nonprofits like Start Anew and Minnehaha Temple #129. One of the organizers, Cecelia Viel, explains, many struggling with homelessness do not have a place to cook food items that are donated to them.

“We are practicing the social distancing, we have the sanitizer, the gloves all of that but we also have to go plate [the food] so people can get their food and leave,” Viel said.