Nearly 200 Pasadena families received Thanksgiving meal boxes with “all the fixings” to prepare at home as staff and volunteers at Union Station Homeless Services continued their Dinner in the Park tradition for a 50th year, with adjustments to allow for pandemic precautions, organizers said.
Instead of gathering for a community feast at Central Park, like usual, Union Station held the first of three events in store leading up to Thanksgiving to ensure Pasadena residents have full fridges and stomachs on the holiday, Union Station spokeswoman Brenda Lynch said. In addition to the meal box distribution, prepared meals will be distributed at the same location on Wednesday for reheating at home. A private dinner service will be held on Thanksgiving for residents of the Union Station’s Adult Center and Family Center.
At last Wednesday’s event, drive-thru and walk-up lanes were set up at Union Station’s Adult Center, Union Station Adult Center, 412 S. Raymond Ave., to pick up boxes packed with “the key ingredients needed for a delicious meal, including turkey, stuffing, mac and cheese, mashed potatoes, gravy, canned corn and cranberries sauce,” Union Station spokeswoman Brenda Lynch said. “The boxes also come with tips and tricks from our amazing Food Services staff on how to prepare a Thanksgiving feast.”
Despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Union Station Senior Director Amanda Green said not serving up a Thanksgiving meal this year was not an option.
“We knew that we needed to do Dinner in the Park. It’s our 50th anniversary. And we knew that now, more than ever, so many people are facing food insecurity. So we really felt committed to making sure we figured out how to distribute food in a no-contact, safe, 2020 way,” she said. “And we were able to provide nearly a thousand meals worth of products to folks who came to our Adult Center and picked up food in a drive-up and walk-up line.”
Roughly 175 vehicles were loaded with meal boxes, Green said. “we took numbers of how many vehicles came up and how many people they said were in their household that they were providing for. That reached nearly a thousand and then the amount of food that people received far exceeded that.”
“Folks were lining up by 8 a.m. and it didn’t even start until 9:30,” she added. “We knew that there was a great need, and that definitely reinforced it.”
Green thanked the community for its strong showing of support, but added there is always more need.
“We received so many items from our community. They really came out in droves, but there’s a lot of items that we can’t request for that come up. And so if people want to support the event, they can absolutely go to our website,” she said. “All donations will go to feed people, not only on Thanksgiving, but year round.”
More information, including how to contribute to Dinner in the Park, is available on Union Station’s website at https://unionstationhs.org/