Here’s how Oakland ensures no one goes hungry on Thanksgiving

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) — The people of the East Bay had several free communities Giving thanks dinners to choose from this holiday.

The turkeys are cooked, the gravy is hot, and the eager, hungry bellies are ready, lined up around the block.

“A lot of times, it’s a great way to spend at least some of the gratitude,” said Tom Huetteman, a senior member of Lake Merritt Methodist Church.

Huetteman has been coming to Lake Merritt Methodist Church for three decades, the same time the church has given Oakland every turkey day.

He says the line of people waiting for food tells a much bigger story about need in Oakland.

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“What you probably see is a lot of seniors in our community, they’re living nearby in some senior housing and they’re struggling paycheck to paycheck, so these meals and the food we provide are essential to making ends meet.” he said

Senior Richard Greenlaw lives alone and is in no condition to cook a full turkey dinner.

“It’s not the food, it’s the people, food is everywhere, it’s the people,” Greenlaw said. “You get that good energy, and that’s so important, so important, because right now I have PTSD and I’m just having trouble, I almost had a grease fire at home the other day.”

But none of those meals would be possible without the hardworking volunteers who gave up time with their families to serve others.

“It’s about family and this is about a bigger family than my family,” said Sunae Cho, senior pastor at Lake Merritt Methodist Church.

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Meanwhile, Two Star Market, owned and operated by four brothers, is celebrating its 20th annual Thanksgiving dinner.

“It comes from our Ramadan holiday month and we wanted to use and capitalize on Thanksgiving – the spirit of giving back and we use this day to give back to the community,” said Farouq Aawei, co-owner of Two Star Market. “If it wasn’t for the community, we wouldn’t be here.”

Welcome and hot lunch to Patrice Williams who has been coming to this community dinner for 20 years.

“I didn’t go anywhere else this Thanksgiving,” Williams said.

He is just looking for some relief from the inflation that has hit his family hard.

“They are so generous, they obviously know what their low income is going through when they don’t have the money to spend on a big Thanksgiving feast for their family,” she said.

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