Carson Nugget officials and FISH are well under way preparing for the annual Community Thanksgiving Feast as staff roasts and prepares turkeys and side dishes.
Dean DiLullo, CEO of the Carson Nugget, said they expect to serve upward of 800 meals on Thanksgiving. But FISH Director Jim Peckham said he expects upward of 900 meals and possibly as many as 1,000 will be served.
He said about half those who show up on Thanksgiving are in financial need. The other half, he said, “are there because they’re lonely, they want to feel part of a celebration.”
DiLullo said they’ll be ready for the crowd.
Executive Chef David Sellars said his staff will cook a total of 2,100 pounds of turkey for the Thursday feast. FISH donated 100 turkeys but more donations are coming in. The Nugget and its vendors donate all the side dishes which Sellars and his staff prepare. As of Friday afternoon, they were about half way through the preparation process.
DiLullo and Peckham both said the idea is to make it a celebration.
”The goal is to make it a fun and uplifting event,” said Peckham. “It seems to bring a lot of joy to people to be a part of it.”
DiLullo said he and his staff and family are, “honored to be part of such a giant charitable event.” He said members of his family come from as far away as Phoenix and Seattle to volunteer and participate.
“It’s all about family and all about the community,” he said. “I know of no other event in Nevada that provides so much food to so many people.”
In addition to the meals served at the Nugget, Peckham said they’ll be delivering meals to about 200 people who are shut-ins and unable to come downtown.
Those volunteers, he said, will actually sit down with those who can’t make it to the Nugget and enjoy a meal and conversation with them.
Despite the healthy and growing economy, Peckham says people need to know there’s still plenty of need out there.
He said the problem is two-fold. First, numerous people who were out of work during the recession now have a job, but it’s a minimum wage job.
As a result, he said, “they’ve lost their food stamps, their day care subsidies and rents are going up.
“There’s still plenty of need to get them up on their feet.”
At the same time, because many people see the economy improving, Peckham said donations have fallen off dramatically.
Peckham pointed out FISH is still in need of serious donations to get through the holiday season. He said the organization has about 490 turkeys. The goal is 1,000 by Christmas. He said at the peak of the recession, FISH was serving 10,000 people. He said two years ago, that had fallen to about 7,200 people but then jumped up to 7,500 last year.
The free Thanksgiving feast was started in 1957 by Dick Graves, the Nugget’s original owner.
“I’m 54 and this has been going on for 61 years,” said DiLullo. “This predates when I was born.”