Thanksgiving Feasts for San Diegans in Need

Times Staff Writer

"My table is your table," says Victor Salem, owner of Super Junior Market.

For the past five years, Salem has turned his small downtown market into a food-assembly line, offering a free Thanksgiving Day meal to those in need.

Salem, his crew of 15 employees and several volunteers begin preparations four days in advance, store employee Robert Moore said.

"We're expecting around 700 people this year," Moore said. "We'll have people lining up clear around the corner at about 7:30 a.m."

A stand to serve food is set up each year outside the market, and people eat outside the store, Moore said. Huge trash barrels complete the scene.

Show Appreciation

"But it's amazing," Moore said. "When they're through and they leave, there's not one bit of trash left behind them.

"No matter who they are, they're thankful and they clean up after themselves. It's how they show their appreciation."

Super Junior Market, 1036 7th Ave., is among the businesses and charities providing free meals for the hungry and homeless on Thanksgiving this year. The market's free meal, including dressing, yams, potatoes and rolls, is served from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day.

Big crowds are expected at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday at Life Ministries San Diego Rescue Mission, 1150 J St., for the mission's 33rd annual Thanksgiving dinner. The meal will be preceded at 1 p.m. by a musical performance by The Barnes Family Singers and Band of La Mesa.

How do you prepare a Thanksgiving dinner for 1,000 guests? According to mission cooks, you use 700 pounds of turkey, 300 pounds of dressing, 23 gallons of gravy, 7 cases of yams, 5 cases of green beans, 3 cases of cranberries, pickles, relish, coffee, tea and dozens and dozens of pumpkin pies.

St. Vincent de Paul Joan Kroc Center will provide a Thanksgiving meal of turkey and ham on Wednesday to 1,000 of San Diego's homeless.

"We're serving a day-before-Thanksgiving meal at 11:30 a.m., so that the needy can get two big meals instead of one," a St. Vincent de Paul spokesman said.

At 9 a.m. Thanksgiving Day, a Mexican breakfast prepared by El Indio Shop Restaurants will be served to the homeless who visit or live at St. Vincent de Paul, 1501 Imperial Ave. The menu includes papas con huevos, chorizo con huevos and chilaquiles with tortillas, enough to feed 1,300.

At 4 p.m. Thursday, a turkey and ham dinner will be served to the 250 residents at St. Vincent de Paul.

A turkey dinner with all the trimmings will be offered by the Salvation Army to anyone with nowhere to go on Thanksgiving Day. It will be served at 11:30 a.m. at Golden Hall in the Civic Center.

Record Turnout

Last year's meal served more than 2,000, a record turnout. "This year's meal will probably set a new record," Maj. Richard Love, county coordinator, said.

According to Salvation Army officials, local donations to fund the meal have fallen off. "It's ironic," said business administrator Art Stillwell, "that hundreds of volunteers come every Thanksgiving and Christmas to help us serve ever-increasing numbers of people, and yet the financial support for the dinners remains static or declines."

The Salvation Army is seeking help from major food suppliers, as well as any financial support, to continue the community dinners during the holidays.

Critique of America, a San Diego-based national magazine, is organizing a "Blanket Drive" to help keep San Diego's homeless warm during the holidays.

"We've been feeding the downtown homeless every Sunday night for about six weeks now," said Tonja Capewell, distribution manager at Critique. "And quite often, the homeless ask for blankets in addition to food."

The drive starts the first week in December. Blankets and other donations can be dropped off at several locations. Call the magazine for locations.

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