Over 2,000 hot meals delivered to Brazos Valley residents in need of a Thanksgiving dinner
“Food has a way of getting into people’s hearts through their belly.”
COLLEGE STATION, Texas (KBTX) - For nearly four decades, the Thanksgiving in the Brazos Valley event has provided hot meals to those in need. Although not fully back to normal due to the pandemic, meals were still delivered this year. Volunteers were welcomed back to help prepare meals in Duncan Dining Hall on the campus of Texas A&M University.
The tradition was started by Danny Morrison, founder of Epicures Catering, in 1983. Since then, the dinner has grown from serving hundreds to now thousands. Morrison says he is grateful that the event was able to return for another year.
“It’s been done every year for the last 38 years. We’re less on COVID issues than we were last year. So we’ve opened up the dining center again for volunteers to come in and help,” said Morrison. “We’ve got a hundred turkeys done now. We’ll be dishing up starting around nine this morning, and we’ll look at getting about 175 drivers out on the streets before noon.”
Morrison says when he began preparing meals on Thanksgiving, he was trying to sell them to people who worked on the holiday or did not want to cook, and from there, one of the most anticipated events of the year was born.
“In the very beginning, back in 1983, I did something that was called Thanksgiving for the Working World. I was trying to sell food to people that were too busy to produce a traditional meal, and so the first delivery we made was to a man and when he opened the door, and we started coming in with the food he started crying,” said Morrison. “I asked him, ‘are you okay?’ And he said, ‘well, my wife’s done this all of our married life, and she’s had a stroke, she’s in a nursing bed in the other room, and we were not going to have Thanksgiving until you showed up at our door’.”
“We brought the food in, set it up for him, and he cried through the whole thing because he was going to do it for his wife, and they were going to have their Thanksgiving,” said Morrison. “Then when he asked to pay, I felt that I couldn’t charge for this meal, so that was 38 years ago, and we haven’t charged since.”
Epicures Catering is not alone in the effort. They’ve partnered with Texas A&M University, Chartwells Dining, The Brazos Valley Food Bank, The United Way of the Brazos Valley, Meals on Wheels, Scarmardo Food Service, H-E-B, and many more organizations.
Marc Cruz, Executive Chef for Chartwells Dining Services, says this is an event the organization is proud to be a part of, and he looks forward to serving the community every year.
“This is great for our team members. They’re all volunteering. We’ve done it so many years, and it’s a good feeling for us to be able to give back. This is like our away from home family,” said Cruz. “We’re so close, and for us to be able to give back, it’s what we do every year, and it touches our hearts. It makes us feel good about everything, and we just want to be able to give back to the community and help everybody out on this day.”
Cruz says this event has a way of lifting people’s spirits through food and fellowship.
“Food has a way of getting into people’s hearts through their belly. We eat together, we play together, we work together, and so it’s really good for us to be here together on Thanksgiving day, to be thankful and be with each other,” said Cruz.
Cruz says these meals also bring joy to those that receive and deliver them.
“We want them to know that they’re not alone. We’re here. We’re going to take them a meal. We’re going to spend time with them, talk to them because it’s not just giving back to them and giving them a meal. It’s spending a little bit time,” said Cruz. " Some of these people are lonely, and they don’t have anyone, and so it’s good for us to go in there and spend actual time with them so that they’re not at home alone.”
“We make them feel good, so they know they have some people in their life on Thanksgiving Day, and it makes everybody feel good inside,” said Cruz.
Nearly 300 volunteers, including the Texas A&M Women’s Volleyball Team, spent their morning helping prepare holiday meals.
“It’s special for us to do things to give back to the community as a team,” said Laura Kuhn, Texas A&M head volleyball coach. “In this world right now, it’s just huge to be together, and Thanksgiving is a great time to do that. This is important for us just to be with our community, helping prepare the food and just pouring ourselves in our love into each other.”
“One of our core values at Texas A&M is selfless service,” said Camille Conner, Texas A&M volleyball team captain. “As Texas A&M volleyball, that is something we are trying to build our program around, and this is an opportunity for us to come together and serve other people.”
Getting the meals into the hands of those that need them takes over 100 drivers, and for some of them, Thanksgiving is a day where they can return the favor.
“When I was younger, we needed help from volunteers,” said Jessica Jimenez, volunteer delivery driver. “We needed help from people that could help, and we got that help, and because we got that help from other people, we want to help the people that need help.”
To make the Thanksgiving meals even more special Bryan ISD students made placemats to go with every dinner.
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