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COVID-19 changing Thanksgiving dinner for Huntington soup kitchen

Published: Nov. 24, 2021 at 5:58 PM EST
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HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) - The Huntington City Mission is gearing up for Thanksgiving dinner, but for the second year in a row, changes will have to be made due to COVID-19.

“We would have figured by now that we would have been serving inside,” said Mitchell Webb, executive director of the mission.

Huntington City Mission serves meals three times a day during the week, and twice during the weekend.

They used to serve about 350 meals per day, which has grown to about 600.

“It certainly increases, as we will probably come close to 180,000 meals being served here this year, which is up. We used to average around 100,000 a year.”

All the meals are prepared in Styrofoam containers and handed out through the front window of the dining hall. This creates a financial difference, as they used to use reusable trays and silverware.

“We’ve gone to using these Styrofoam clamshell containers which has worked great, but that adds an additional 12 cents to every meal that we serve. So if you figure the meals almost doubling, all you have to do is 180,000 times 12 cents,” Webb said.

Thanksgiving dinner will once again also be served out the window instead of in the dining hall. Webb says they don’t have the money to rent out a bigger space.

“Just about the time we think we’re clear, we’ll have an outbreak here. And so while we want to do it, we really just can’t rush it,” Webb said.

This takes away a warm place for the homeless community to come, sit down and eat, which is something needed after a year and a half of isolation from the pandemic.

“I know that’s a void that these folks experiencing homelessness are facing,” Webb said. “The isolation that many of us have experienced during the pandemic is just not good for us and especially those in the homeless community.”

Though it is hard for Webb to see people come and take their food and eat on the street, he’s focusing on the positive.

“At least we know they’ll have a meal there going to have warm food they’re going to have good food,” he said.

Thanksgiving dinner will be handed out at Huntington City Mission’s dining hall on 7th Avenue from 12 p.m. until 4 p.m. Thursday.

Webb said the meals would not be possible without donations from places like Food Fair, Walmart and the Facing Hunger food bank.

Since the pandemic started, Webb says they haven’t missed serving a single meal.

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