The adage “home for the holidays” heard so frequently during the season may strike a sensitive chord for someone who is homeless and living on the streets. Especially for those without stable access to food, Thanksgiving can bring even more heartache and worry.
One Washington, D.C. charity, Miriam’s Kitchen, is working to provide meals and support for those without a home. And, as Thanksgiving approaches, it is planning to cook a full, from-scratch Thanksgiving meal for the homeless in the area.
Thanks to volunteers and food donated by local farmers markets, institutions and businesses, those who wish to help Miriam’s Kitchen pay for a homeless person’s Thanksgiving dinner can do so for less than a dollar. It only costs 76 cents to provide someone in need with their own Thanksgiving feast.
“Miriam’s Kitchen’s goal is to end chronic homelessness, and we do that by providing meals, both breakfast and dinner, for people experiencing homelessness and then try to connect them with services and support that will lead them to housing,” according to Martha Wolf, volunteer manager at Miriam’s Kitchen.
This Thanksgiving is no exception. Miriam’s Kitchen will open for a Thanksgiving-themed breakfast, where guests will have access to caseworkers to help them with their specific needs. After the breakfast, guests can participate in a therapeutic studio program where they can create works of art. Then, later in the day, Miriam’s Kitchen will hold its annual traditional Thanksgiving feast.
“All of our meals are made with fresh, healthy ingredients. The restaurant-quality food we serve shows our guests that we care. It builds a bridge of trust. And it makes it possible to form a relationship with each individual who comes through our doors,” according to Miriam’s Kitchen.
Guests can look forward to a delicious Thanksgiving Day menu that includes turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, greens and cranberry sauce.
Miriam’s Kitchen provides on-site case managers and housing and health services to help those who visit.
“Being in safe and stable housing benefits both parents and children for a lifetime, improving their overall well-being, health, education and future employment opportunities — outcomes that strengthen our communities and our country as a whole,” according to the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness.
The Thanksgiving dinner is open to all, Wolf said: “There are no requirements, no restrictions. We are a low-barrier, welcoming organization.” Miriam’s Kitchen has been averaging 150 to 180 people coming for dinner.
“Around 4:45, we will serve our Thanksgiving dinner, which will be turkey and all the sides and everything of a traditional Thanksgiving meal,” she said. The next day, a typical day-after-Thanksgiving meal will be served.
Donors can visit miriamskitchen.org to help make this service a reality. A donation of only $25 provides a Thanksgiving meal for 32 people.
Miriam’s Kitchen is also accepting donations of frozen turkeys. Drop-off times are Nov. 19 or Nov. 20 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Turkeys must be frozen.
“We’re hoping to cook probably 30 turkeys to serve everyone and then have enough leftovers for the next day. We’ll be collecting turkeys, and if we get more than 30, then we can use those throughout the year … Thanksgiving is a great holiday, but we are serving our guests Monday through Friday all year-round. The hunger and people experiencing homelessness is year-round, and so our need is year-round … not just a once-a-year thing.”
To find out more about Miriam’s Kitchen, become a volunteer or donate a meal to those in need, visit miriamskitchen.org.