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Foodies and local churches to provide free Thanksgiving meal for Dowagiac families

Published 8:00am Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Succulent turkey, creamy mashed potatoes and sweet, delicious pies will all be on the menu Thanksgiving Day at Dowagiac eatery Foodies, available at a price that every man, woman and child in the city can afford.

Free.

For the third year in a row, Foodies and local Christian collation Area Churches Together In One Network (ACTION) have teamed up to deliver a warm and filling Thanksgiving dinner, free of charge, to Dowagiac residents. The dinner will begin on Thanksgiving day, Nov. 7, at noon, with three additional sittings taking place at one hour increments, the last taking place at 3 p.m.

Around 30 turkeys have been donated for the dinner, along with other typical Thanksgiving fixings like potatoes and pie, and other kinds of dishes like squash and veggie platters.

ACTION has been working with Foodies owners David and Carol Heflin since 2011 to help bring the latter’s vision of a free Thanksgiving dinner into fruition, said ACTION interim President Chad Benkert.

“The idea started when Carol and I had lunch together around three years ago, when I first came to town,” Benkert said. “She told me then that she would love to give a free, Thanksgiving meal to the community. It’s just grown from there.”

Since then, ACTION has taken Heflin’s idea and ran with it, providing the necessary volunteers to help the man the kitchens on Thanksgiving. This year, Benkert estimates that nearly 100 citizens will be on hand throughout the afternoon to help prepare and serve food.

“You have 20 kids in the back of the kitchen, peeling potatoes and preparing squash,” Benkert said. “It’s quite a sight to see.”

In addition to the strong volunteer force on hand, the local pastor estimates that around 300 people will come out to enjoy a Thanksgiving dinner on the house.

“The misconception that some have about this meal is that we’re just feeding the poor of this city,” Benkert said. “We’ll have people from all across the city here, just wanting to enjoy a free Thanksgiving dinner.”

Benkert said even he and his family plan to grab a plate during the afternoon.

In addition to the dinner provided at Foodies, ACTION volunteers plan to deliver Thanksgiving dinners nearly 300 local households as well, Benkert said.

“We have a good volunteer base here at ACTION,” he added. “It’s something we’ve put a great emphasis on building.”

During the event, ACTION will accept donations, which go toward its local food pantry.

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