THE NEED TO FEED: Feast of Plenty forges ahead to spread love this Thanksgiving

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One of hundreds of containers is prepared during the annual Lisa Muegge Feast of Plenty in 2019. (File photo) Tom Russo | Daily Reporter

GREENFIELD — The pandemic is making life challenging, but organizers of the annual Feast of Plenty in Greenfield are undeterred.

This marks the 15th year for the Thanksgiving Day food giveaway, which last year distributed an estimated 2,500 meals to those in need.

While the pandemic has made hosting the giveaway more challenging, it’s also created a greater need than perhaps ever before, said Joel Hungate, whose mother, Lisa Muegge, founded the event.

“The pandemic has brought on isolation and prevented people from gathering. That hot meal on Thanksgiving is going to be such a critical component, and a great way for the people in our community to show love to those in need,” said Hungate.

“We really can’t afford not to do it.”

Since Muegge passed away five years ago, her friends and family have carried on the tradition in her honor, and this year will be no different.

Organizers are implementing safety protocols to keep everyone safe during this year’s event, which takes place from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Hancock County Fairgrounds in Greenfield.

The biggest change is taking away the dine-in option, which typically draws hundreds of people to the fairground’s exhibit hall.

Instead, a tent will be set up outside where people can walk up and take away as many meals as their family needs.

The volunteer list — which typically fills up early each year — will be adjusted so that more people are signed up to deliver meals than before. Most meals are delivered throughout the greater Hancock County area, with some spread out throughout central Indiana.

Delivery drivers will pull up outside the exhibit hall to have meals loaded into their vehicles, rather than going in to pick up meals as they have in the past.

“We’ve really gone above and beyond to ensure the safety of our volunteers, our attendees and anyone receiving a meal, and we’ve developed what we think is a really efficient and effective way to meet what we expect to be an out-sized demand,” said Hungate.

Face masks, hand sanitizer and other safeguards will be in play for Feast of Plenty volunteers, who will be working in smaller groups in staggered shifts to allow for social distancing.

Homemade baked good donations will not be accepted this year, but organizers are accepting donations of non-perishable food, soap, toilet paper and other essentials. Each household receiving a meal also receives a bag of donated food and supplies.

Hungate said more volunteers will be needed this year to make sure the new system goes smoothly. The amount of people who turn out each year to help out is always overwhelming, he said.

He encourages volunteers to check the event website — FeastOfPlentyOutreach.com — for ongoing updates, since more volunteer spots may open up as the request for meals increases in the coming weeks.

“Their willingness to get out and to serve and to be that source of love for those in need is a real testament to our community,” he said.

Hungate said that when his mom and stepdad, Jeff Muegge, started the Feast of Plenty in 2005, it was impossible to imagine how big the event would become.

“It’s such an honor to be able to continue that vision,” he said.

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The 15th annual Feast of Plenty will take place from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thanksgiving Day at the Hancock County Fairgrounds, 620 Apple St., Greenfield.

Those in need can request a hot meal of turkey and all the trimmings.

There will be no dine-in option this year; instead, to-go meals will be served at a walk-up tent at the fairgrounds or home-delivered by a team of volunteers.

To request a meal, call 317-335-7590.

To volunteer or donate, visit FeastOfPlentyOutreach.com.

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