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As Thanksgiving approaches, local pantries such as Chautauqua County Rural Ministries and Project Outpour are preparing to serve dinners to local residents in need.
The Outpour Project will distribute meals this Sunday from 1:00 p.m. in the Outpour Project building at 61 E. Fourth St. in Dunkirk, in a drive-in style behind the building. Full meals will include mashed potatoes, a vegetable, stuffing, turkey, a bun, and some sort of dessert, like a bag of candy or a slice of pie. Pastor Erika Lopez of Project Outpour said there would be plenty to distribute.
“We plan to prepare 1,000 meals”, Lopez said. “We want to make sure everyone enjoys a hearty Thanksgiving meal. “
Lopez said local restaurant Arly and Izzy’s restaurant would help prepare meals, as Project Outpour does not have its own kitchen available. Lopez said they cook 60 turkeys at the restaurant.
“We have received many calls from people who could not buy turkeys”, Lopez said. “The community came together, we received donations from everywhere and we saved money for it all year round. We are going to distribute a lot of food in the community.
Likewise, the rural ministry of Chautauqua County has received a good number of requests. Executive Director Kathleen Peterson said there were between 90 and 100 requests so far, which is an increase from last year but a decrease from previous years. Peterson said there doesn’t appear to be a consistent measure of how many people will need donations.
“It was not what we expected” said Peterson. “We had half the number of applicants, but more people came to the soup kitchen. There doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason, when the pantry is low the kitchen is high and vice versa.
Peterson said rural ministries have plenty of turkey, but right now there is still a shortage of various canned items like gravy and sweet potatoes, although that’s not abnormal for Thanksgiving either.
“We have a group of volunteers who come to pack their bags this weekend”, said Peterson. “We hope to be able to get more stuff then. I think people will start contributing stuff soon.
Rural ministries will serve their traditional Thanksgiving meals on Thanksgiving Day from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., which is open to the public to anyone who wants a meal. Monday and Tuesday afternoon, the agency will distribute Thanksgiving baskets to families who have signed up for the donation.
Even though Thanksgiving is not over yet, rural ministries and Project Outpour are already planning Christmas. Lopez said those in need of gifts for their children can contact them via email at [email protected] or on Facebook at The Outpour Project, where all information on the Outpour Project can be found.
Likewise, rural ministries will be accepting requests for Christmas gifts on December 3, 4, 5, 8 and 9 from noon to 3 p.m. at 319 Washington Ave. They require applicants to bring proof of residency, a tax return, and their Security Card, although they do not take copies of Social Security cards and only record the last four digits.