Thousands of people headed to Vancouver’s Union Gospel Mission (UGM) on Monday, where the charity was dishing out its annual Thanksgiving dinner.
UGM spokesperson Jeremy Hunka said the meal is an important day on the calendar for the city’s homeless — a population that has risen to record levels.
“There’s a lot of people at Thanksgiving that are feeling broken, forgotten, like they don’t have a lot of hope. They don’t necessarily feel like they have a lot to be thankful for,” said Hunka.
Organizers expect to serve up more than 3,000 plates of Turkey with all the fixings.
That boils down to 2,000 pounds of turkey, 800 pounds each of mashed potatoes and stuffing and 700 pounds of vegetables, all smothered in 300 litres of gravy.
The massive job requires more than 100 volunteers, some of whom have been in the kitchen for three days preparing.
Hunka said there are also people who were formerly homeless helping serve dinner on Monday, there to give back and to show that turning a life around isn’t hopeless.
He said while the annual dinner is about providing comfort, the organization’s mission starts with a meal.
“We want to serve as many people as we can, give them something to celebrate, and connect them to UGM and our life-changing services so we can get them out of those difficult circumstances,” he said.
“We have recovery programs, we have housing, we basically want to get people in the door. Give them that immediate rescue, but also help them build, and take that opportunity to improve their lives.”
UGM estimates that each plate they serve costs about $3.29 to produce, most of it funded by donors.
Vancouver’s 2019 homeless count revealed that there were at least 2,223 homeless people in the city, the highest number since the survey began in 2002.