"We prepare what we call our 50-pound food box, which we give out to hungry needy families about twice a month throughout the year," said Rev. Tom Laymon of the Sunday Breakfast Mission. "But at Thanksgiving, we prepare a special Thanksgiving-oriented food box that is really a week's worth of food...We give out that food box plus a turkey and whatever else we might have available, like pies or bread, so that everyone can have a great Thanksgiving banquet like we have at the mission. But many people want to have it right there at home and, this year especially, there will be many people who want that."
The Sunday Breakfast Mission still has slots available for families who may find themselves in need of assistance putting a Thanksgiving meal on the table this year. Laymon says large families can even receive two boxes. But, this year, he says they received fewer calls than they typically receive, and is worried people don't know about the services the organization provides.
"Even now, we still have spots available. In fact, we have, I'd say, probably a couple hundred spots available so we wanted to get the word out that we have food boxes and turkeys that will be available to folks. But they need to call and make an appointment."
The boxes provide a full spectrum of food, from breakfast to lunch to dinner, for more than a week, with things like vegetables, fruits, pastas, sauces, mac and cheese, tunas, and then, for Thanksgiving, extra items like stuffing and mashed potatoes and candied yams get added into the mix.
But Laymon has some concerns. They start with the sheer number of people they try to help each year.
"We start off with about 30 tons of donated food that comes in from all over Delaware," Laymon said. "On that day...we're planning to see 1,300 families in two days--Monday and Tuesday of Thanksgiving week."
And those concerns continue to supply. Though they've received fewer calls this year compared to previous annual trends, they're also facing a shortfall when it comes to their stockpile.
"We're really concerned this year that the minimum of 30 tons of food will not be reached," he said. "And we really need folks to know they need to still collect that, because we are still open all during this time. When this virus has gone all over the place, while other folks may have closed down and shut down, our food distribution has continued our evening shelter, always continued our evening meals and breakfasts."
Compounding everything this year was the COVID-19 pandemic, which has created issues all the way through to the logistical level, where a supplier couldn't produce the items typically used to promote the event and drive donations.
"COVID affected us in an unusual way. Our Great Thanksgiving Food Drive is initiated by a grocery bag with all the instructions on the outside of it, telling what kind of foods to bring in and where to drop it off," Laymon said. "But COVID caused the bag manufacturers to say, 'We cannot produce a bag for you this year.'"
Those in need, or those in a position to help are urged to contact Rev. Tom Laymon at the Sunday Breakfast Mission by calling 877.306.HOME (4663) or visiting SundayBreakfastMission.org for more info.