With the state battling an increase in the number of COVID-19 cases, the Thanksgiving holiday has had to take on some different looks. The city’s annual Thanksgiving Dinner, plans have been altered to deal with the new reality, while offering a traditional holiday meal to those who might not have one.
Bill Ewry, chairman of the Community Thanksgiving Dinner Committee, announced two weeks ago the dinner would be “virtual,” like so many things in these past months. “Virtual” in the case of the dinner is a curbside pic- up or delivery of the meals. Despite the new methods, the requests have been brisk.
“As of today (Friday), we about 100 meals being requested,” said, Ewry. About half of these will be delivered. I believe we have enough drivers for the meals that we will be delivering.”
The committee can no longer take reservations for the dinner due to logistical constraints.
Ewry said the committee doesn’t take demographic information, so the status of those requesting the meals is not readily available; however, in the past the meals have gone to those ranging from shut-ins to those who just want to celebrate a meal with their friends and neighbors in a community setting.
As in year’s past, the Thanksgiving meal will still have all the fixings of a traditional Thanksgiving dinner including: turkey, green beans, dressing, carrots, mashed potatoes, dinner rolls, sweet potatoes and desserts.
This ninth edition of the dinner in its current iteration, had to make some adjustments to the way things are done.
Usually, the committee looks for donations of food and desserts from members of the community, churches or help from fraternal organizations. Because of COVID, changes in how meals will be prepared and where to get the food were made.
“For safety concerns, we did not accept donations from the community this year,” Ewry wrote. “Once “The University of New Haven, through the school’s food services provider, has volunteered to provide the mashed potatoes and stuffing for the dinner..”
There have been other ways the community has helped, however.
“We have received monetary donations to support the dinner and we are always accepting donations. The community (was) reminded of this through our earlier letter to you and other communications,” Ewry said.
If anyone would like to support the dinner with a monetary donation, the donation should be sent to the church office at 1 Church St., West Haven, CT 06516 attention Bill Ewry with “Thanksgiving Dinner” in the memo.
While this is the ninth edition of this dinner as it is now constructed, the Community Thanksgiving Dinner was originally organized by a subcommittee of the West Haven Clergy Association in the 1980s. A committee going by the acronym ACTION (Associated Congregations Together in Outreach Networking) was put under the direction of then-pastor of First Methodist (now First and Wesley) Church, the Rev. Art Yost.
That committee continued for more than 20 years when it was found the various efforts, which by then included a weekly soup kitchen, were encroaching on each other. Yost separated the dinner from other efforts before he retired, some of which are still ongoing.
First Congregational Church, which hosted the first dinner in its Fellowship Hall more than 30 years ago, took over the dinner, and Ewry has been in charge ever since.