Local agencies and churches are giving away holiday food, but the pandemic has called for an adjustment on how it’s done.
BY ANDREAS BUTLER
There are still options for area residents seeking a Thanksgiving meal on Nov. 26. Most of the churches and agencies that offer free Thanksgiving preparation food items have already completed their donations.
Halifax Urban Ministries (HUM) will again host its Bridge of Hope Hot Meal program for the homeless on Thanksgiving Day from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at 316 North Street.
“Nobody else is feeding the homeless on that day. We decided to stay open. Everybody needs a hot meal,” said Operations Director Donna Dooley.
HUM also has adjusted its program due to the pandemic.
“We don’t have people dining inside anymore. We cook the food and have volunteers serve outside. We depend upon volunteers, especially with the churches,” explained Dooley.
It is too late to sign up for HUM’s Thanksgiving baskets but those wishing to donate food items can still do so.
Food items can be dropped off at the main office at Hope Place, 1340 Wright Street, on Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. or at any of the HUM pantries.
Those in need of assistance should also check with HUM.
“We encourage anyone who needs assistance to go by our food pantries. We help with food daily and sometimes those bags of food have holiday meal items,” said Dooley.
For HUM locations and services, visit www.halifaxurbanministries.org
Take-out at St. Demetrios
St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church will still hold its annual Thanksgiving luncheon from noon to 2 p.m. It’s located at 129 N. Halifax Drive, Daytona Beach. This year’s meal will be takeout only.
“It is because of COVID-19 that we regret that we cannot have anyone eating inside with us as usual. They must take their meals off of the church premises and eat. We have to take safety precautions,’’ said Phyllis Hawkins, the church’s secretary.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is urging Americans to forgo large holiday indoor gatherings with people from outside of their households.
An ongoing mission
Many local churches are helping residents during the holidays and beyond.
Hope Fellowship Church will give out Thanksgiving boxes to 125 families at its Derbyshire Road location on Tuesday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Families receiving those meals have already preregistered with the church. Food will not be given to anyone who hasn’t preregistered.
“It is important that we as the church not just go to church but be the church. We must continue to help those who are less fortunate and those that are in need,” said the Rev. John Paul McGee, pastor of Hope Fellowship.
The church fed more than 100 people on Nov.17 for its annual Thanksgiving dinner at the church.
McGee noted, “It was wonderful. Those who came had a great meal. They got to fellowship, and they enjoyed themselves.”
Hope Fellowship gives a free hot meal to those in need every Tuesday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the church.
Strain on services
Daytona Deliverance Church of God held its annual Thanksgiving meal known as “Friendsgiving’’ through its Kids Café and Kingdom Youth on a Mission (K.Y.O.M.) youth ministry on Nov. 18.
The church also gave away Thanksgiving baskets on Nov. 17.
The coronavirus pandemic has knocked out some traditional programs.
The Salvation Army, for example, will not have its annual Thanksgiving Day dinner in Daytona Beach due to coronavirus concern
Increase in need
The pandemic highlights the importance of giving this holiday season with many out of work and facing hard times financially
“We are seeing more people in need of assistance. We have had more people come to our hot meal event on Tuesdays since the pandemic,” expressed McGee.
Dooley added, “There is definitely a lot of need for assistance right now. We are giving out a lot more food than we used to.”
Halifax Urban Ministries is giving away 2,700 to 3,200 bags of food a week through partnerships with Volusia County, Volusia County Schools, Daytona Beach Housing Authority, and others. Before the pandemic, HUM was giving away about 500 bags per week.