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Posted on Nov 22, 2017

Quincy folks help everyone have a happy Thanksgiving

It’s Thanksgiving week, and along with the pile of football games comes the desire for a table full of good food and a circle of chairs filled with family and friends.
But if either of those things (or both) seem impossible right now, don’t worry. A couple of Quincy businesses are here to help.
The Grainery will host a free Thanksgiving lunch on Thursday, with volunteers serving the food. And Quincy Market is offering $19.99 holiday meals available for purchase, as well as $10 bags of groceries.
Abel Chavez, store manager at Quincy Market, says the $10 bags of groceries can be purchased and then donated to the Quincy Food Bank. The bags contain items like spaghetti, macaroni and cheese, peanut butter, tuna, tomato sauce, canned vegetables and canned soup.
The $19.99 holiday meals include an 8-to-10-pound frozen turkey, a 5-pound bag of potatoes, stuffing, corn, gravy mix, a can of olives, a container of cranberry sauce and a choice of pumpkin or apple pie.
“Just for people to have some kind of affordable meal for the holidays,” said Chavez, who added that the holiday meal will run until Christmas, “depending on whether we have turkeys.”
The holiday meals can be purchased with money or food stamps, Chavez added.
At The Grainery, the free Thanksgiving lunch has become a staple of the holiday season. Initially started by Akins Harvest Foods, the cafe began offering it once Akins stopped.
“My husband and I volunteered for it for a few years, and when they wanted to quit, we took it over, and at the same time bought The Grainery, so we started using the Grainery building,” said Gina Westra.
The free meal has become popular for a cross section of the Quincy community, says Westra, who notes it’s “not just homeless people or somebody who can’t afford it. It’s also people who are just alone and there’s no sense in making a big ol’ meal.”
The meals are offered starting at 11 a.m. until 2:30 p.m., sort of, says Westra, adding “-ish” to the end time.
“If people are still coming and we have food, we are going to keep feeding ’em,” she said. “It’s not like we are going to close the door and say, ‘No, that’s it.’”
The meals are sponsored by Faith Community Church, which helps with a little cash for the grocery-buying, which runs around $2,000 altogether.
“It’s not too big,” she said of the cost. “And we get help from the community as well, so that helps.”
Volunteers serve the food, which includes most of the dishes you would find at a Thanksgiving meal.
“Turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans, corn, fresh-baked dinner rolls, we do apple and pumpkin pies, and then of course, we offer drinks: milk, eggnog, hot cider – that kind of thing.”
Last year, at least 175 people got a free Thanksgiving lunch at The Grainery, Westra said, including a family of 10. During the meal, the business is closed to paying customers.
“We don’t even open up the till,” Westra said. “We don’t want it to be about making money that day. We want to make sure it’s more community-focused, about spending time with people and feeding people.”
The only thing missing, it seems, is one thing that’s ubiquitous in living rooms at Thanksgiving: a football game on TV.
“I was talking to my husband about getting that,” Westra said. “I don’t know if we will be able to get it done this year, but we would like to start adding that. That would be fun.”

By Sebastian Moraga,

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