Over 1,400 meals were distributed on Saturday, Nov. 24
PASO ROBLES — The third Thursday of November is traditionally dedicated to giving thanks, and some volunteers in Paso Robles did just that on Thursday, Nov. 24.
Over 1,400 homemade meals were distributed to the community for the 38th Thanksgiving for Paso Robles at Centennial Park. It takes around 200 volunteers to put the whole dinner together from start to finish.
Thanksgiving for Paso Robles is a celebration of thanks serving over 1,500 men, women, and children from all communities, a traditional Thanksgiving meal at no cost. A true expression of community that brings diverse people together to share the day with others.
Dining Room Coordinator Larry Schiffer began volunteering at the dinner 10 years ago.
“Every year is good,” explains Schiffer. “Once it gets started, it takes on a life of its own. Everybody knows what they are doing, and it works out.”
Schiffer became involved with Thanksgiving for Paso Robles when he moved to the area a decade ago. Not knowing anyone in the area, he heard of the dinner and attended. After that first dinner, Schiffer knew he wanted to become involved.
Many of the volunteers serving at the Thanksgiving dinner have a similar story. All with a smile on their face, the volunteers enjoy each other’s company and look forward to helping with the event and the opportunity to give back.
“We welcome all forms, either financial or social need,” says David Kudija, the events chairman.
Volunteers began cooking the homemade meal on Monday at the Paso Robles Culinary Arts Academy on Golden Hill Road. They then bring and set up the meal at the Centennial Park Activity Center.
On the menu, this Thanksgiving oven-roasted turkey, ham, mashed potatoes and gravy, dressing, mixed vegetables, salad, candied yams, cranberry sauce, rolls, and house-baked pie.
This year, a total of 1,480 meals were served either in the dining room or delivered. Following the covid pandemic, more people have been opting for their meal to be delivered, but Kudija explains they saw more people in the dining room this year.
While Kudija has yet to finalize the total cost it took this year to put on the meal, he expects this year’s to cost significantly more. Last year’s meal cost them about $12,000.
“Food is a lot higher this year,” said Kudija. “Our big challange this year was finding turkeys.”
With the help of the Culinary Academy, Kudija and his team were finally able to locate some turkeys, but again at a higher cost.
Leftover food from the meal is always donated to a local nonprofit. This year about 200 meals worth of food were brought to Sunny Acres in San Luis Obispo.
“We are just a group of individuals who got together to do this,” explained Kudija. “There is no big business or government behind us. It’s local people rolling up their sleeves and getting it done.”
For more information on Thanksgiving for Paso Robles, visit thanksgivingforpasorobles.com