Nishnawbe-Gamik Friendship Centre gives back to community with Holiday Drive-Thru Feast
Mike Lawrence - Staff Writer
The Nishnawbe-Gamik Friendship Centre (NGFC) continued its efforts to ensure everyone has a great holiday season by hosting a Drive-Thru Feast on Thursday, Dec 2. The NGFC has been hosting a holiday feast for the community for years but the constraints of the pandemic last year forced the event to move to an outdoor drive-thru format, which continued this year.
Prior to the feast, Nishnawbe-Gamik Friendship Centre Executive Director Jennifer Thomas explained, “We’ve been doing this for as long as I can remember. Pre-COVID we would house the feast here in the Friendship Centre but of course with social distancing, keeping up with the protocols, and ensuring the safety of the community and our clients, we went with the drive-thru feast. This is our second year doing it as a drive-thru.”
It takes no small amount of preparation to undertake such a large-scale event. Thomas continued “It was a great success last year. We served about 400, over 400 plates, so we are expecting quite a few people again this year. This year we’ve actually increased the amount of food we are preparing. We are cooking about 18 hams and we’re cooking 15 turkeys and about 200 pounds of potatoes. Along with that we have a number of cases of mixed vegetables, and macaroni salad. We start prepping the day before. We want to make sure that everything is fresh, and nice and piping hot, so we start doing some of the prep work…the ordering we start planning usually in October, but the prepping of the food doesn’t happen until the day before. We’ve got a really dedicated amazing team here that are just as excited about preparing and providing a feast as those that come and get a plate.”
Thomas feels it’s important to give back to the community, especially at a time when things can feel a bit overwhelming.
“We certainly want to make sure that we have enough to feed our community and those that come out. We’re really looking forward to seeing everyone, it puts a smile on everyone’s face and its certainly what the holiday is about. Supporting each other, spending time with each other, those really feel-good feelings. We are really happy to be able to do that and create a little bit of joy. Sometimes it’s stressful and especially with COVID, Christmas can be a busy time.”
The format of the drive-thru is set up so as to allow both those in vehicles and those on foot to partake. Thomas stresses that this is a community event, and all are welcome, stating “We have two stations, of course, one set up for vehicles and the other is for walk ups. We also bring plates to supportive housing, who we are partners with, and we also bring trays to the Out of the Cold shelter as well. This is open to anybody who wants a turkey dinner. Everyone in this community is welcome and invited to come out for this. The feast is our way of thanking the community for their support throughout the year. Usually, we would start with a traditional opening, and we’ll do that here as well. Smudge and prepare so that when we’re giving those plates away to the community, those medicines are a part of that. It’s just our way to say thank you and enjoy the holidays and spreading that love and cheer.”
By the end of the evening 642 plates of food were handed out to the community.