For the third year in a row, long lines formed outside The Salvation Army’s Temple Corps, Pioneer Corps and West Philadelphia Corps Community Centers before 9am on Thanksgiving. Hundreds of people in need all there for a common purpose – to pick up a pre-cooked Thanksgiving dinner. We call it “Thanksgiving-to-Go.”
“This event allows local families, who may not be able to afford a holiday meal otherwise, to celebrate with loved ones in the privacy of their own home” said Major A. Philip Ferreira, Director of Operations, The Salvation Army Greater Philadelphia.
“Thanksgiving-to-Go” preparations started on Monday, November 23 at The Salvation Army Greater Philadelphia’s Operations Office on Conshohocken Avenue and continued for three full days leading up to the holiday. Our Soup’s On! Project, a culinary arts job training and placement program, along with teams of volunteers, prepared enough food for 900 families, the equivalent of 4,000 meals, using:
· 2,653 pounds of turkey
· 1,855 pounds of mashed potatoes
· 1,825 pounds of stuffing
· 1,755 pounds of green beans
· 1,200 cans of gravy
· 1,200 cans of cranberry sauce
· 1,200 packages of rolls
“I loved seeing the large quantity of food being mixed. It’s fascinating seeing all that as a volunteer. The most I ever cooked for was ten people,” said Rana McManara, who was helping out with food prep alongside colleagues from The American College of Financial Services.
“I want to always be there to help people in need,” said fellow volunteer, Jasmine Brown. “I want them to know we’re thinking of them.”
Recognizing the state of poverty in Philadelphia, The Salvation Army aims to provide physical, emotional and spiritual care to individuals and families during the holidays and throughout the year. According to a U.S. Census 2014 American Community Survey, twenty-eight percent of Philadelphians—between 430,000 and 440,000 people—live below the federal poverty level, including 135,000 children, 265,000 work-age adults and 32,000 seniors. Beyond that, of the top ten largest cities in America, Philadelphia has the highest rate of deep poverty at 12.3 percent, approximately 186,000 individuals – 60,000 of whom are children. Deep poverty is measured as income of 50 percent or less of the poverty rate. A family of four living in deep poverty takes in $12,000 or less annually, half the poverty rate of $24,000 for a family that size.
“We are serving more people in Greater Philadelphia than ever before. We are seeing large increases in the numbers of individuals and families who need help with things like food and shelter, heat for staying warm during the cold winter months and holiday assistance,” said Major Ferreira.
Nearly 200 volunteers and staff mobilized for dinner distribution at the three designated corps community centers on Thanksgiving morning. Men, women and children streamed in to pickup dinner, which included a cooked turkey breast, fixings for the turkey, sides and enough food for leftovers.
“We hope our ‘Thanksgiving-to-Go’ recipients were able to cherish the holiday, a delicious meal and special moments together without financial worry on this day,” said Major Ferreira.