GREENFIELD — Hundreds of Hancock County families will have plenty to be thankful for on Thursday. A handful of community groups have come together to make sure even the most down-and-out can get a traditional Thanksgiving feast this year.
In its seventh year, Feast of Plenty will take place from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday at the Hancock County Fairgrounds. Organizers said they are expecting to serve as many as 2,500 free Thanksgiving meals – a jump of about 500 from last year’s nearly 2,000 meals.
“Families’ needs are great this year, like every other year,” said event founder Lisa Muegge.
Muegge is once again coordinating the massive effort that brings together thousands of hungry Hancock County residents, hundreds of volunteers and dozens of turkeys. Volunteers purchase and cook birds, pies and rolls that are then delivered Thanksgiving morning. The rest of the meal is purchased through a food distributor and includes all the traditional favorites like mashed potatoes, corn, green beans and sweet potatoes.
“We go through the butter,” joked Muegge.
About half of the meals will be eaten on site in the 4-H Exhibit Hall where the meals are assembled. The rest will be delivered to individual homes by volunteer drivers who will also take bags of grocery staples to those who need them.
“We’ll have all the food they could want,” Muegge said. “We’re eradicating hunger, one meal at a time.”
While having enough food has not been a problem in the past, Muegge said organizers are still in need of volunteers to provide cooked turkeys, pies and rolls and monetary donations to pay for the other hot items.
Feast of Plenty is hardly the only place helping make sure every family has access to a plentiful Thanksgiving meal.
Kenneth Butler Memorial Soup Kitchen will serve its annual Thanksgiving meal Wednesday at both lunch and dinner.
“We have turkey and all the trimmings,” said director Jill Ebbert.
Ebbert said it’s a popular meal each year. The soup kitchen will be closed Thursday, directing those in need of a meal to Feast of Plenty. It will reopen Friday, making use of Feast of Plenty leftovers. Ebbert said the soup kitchen takes all the leftovers, which are usually plentiful. Some will be served right away, while much of the turkey will be frozen and used for other meals throughout the winter.
For families who prefer to prepare their own Thanksgiving meal but can’t necessarily afford it this year, there are still other options.
McCordsville’s Angel Connection Food Pantry distributes ingredients for a Thanksgiving meal for free to families who register.
Hancock County Food Pantry was not able to provide special Thanksgiving meals – supplies are being held back for special baskets that will go out at Christmastime. But many families were still turning to the pantry this week.
“It’s a blessing for families who need a little help,” said Amanda Kent, Greenfield. Kent said some of what she picked up at the pantry Monday would go toward the Thanksgiving meal she was planning for her family of five.
Volunteer John Owen said the Monday before Thanksgiving was one of the food pantry’s busiest days. Between 50 and 60 people were waiting in line Monday afternoon.
“Everyone wants to have plenty on hand,” Owen said. “A lot of people are getting things for the holidays.”