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Father Joe's Villages serves up an early Thanksgiving meal

Father Joe's Village volunteers and staff prepared and served an early Thanksgiving meal Wednesday to individuals and families experiencing homelessness and food insecurity.

“It’s nostalgic,” said Helen Coyne, the culinary arts instructor at Father Joe’s Villages. “It makes you feel good. It’s comfort food and hopefully, it will bring back good memories for them.”

Father Joe’s Villages’ kitchen prepares three meals a day for its clients and this holiday-themed lunch was no different in terms of the quality of food.

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Matthew Bowler
Kitchen staff at Father Joe's in downtown San Diego prepare food for the special Thanksgiving meal, Nov. 24, 2021.

“It is scratch cooking," Coyne said. "The turkeys were deboned by hand, roasted off, sliced by hand. Mashed potatoes, stuffing, everything was made from scratch and the gravy, the turkey stock, just beautiful.”

Topped off with a yummy berry pie. This festive meal provides important nutrition to a vulnerable population.

Because of the pandemic, meals were individually packaged in to-go boxes, instead of a sit-down meal as was done in years past.

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Matthew Bowler
Volunteers hand people to-go Thanksgiving meals through a window at Father Joe's in downtown San Diego, Nov. 24, 2021.

Deacon Jim Vargas, president and CEO of Father Joe’s Villages, said one-out-of-three San Diegans are nutrition deprived.

“We have 700 to 1,000 individuals, guests who will be joining us for this meal,” he said. “Those who we serve, especially those on the streets, they feel isolated. The pandemic has added to that and compounded it and so this is an opportunity for them to come in and feel loved. They have a family in us. We care for them. We care for their wellbeing.”

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A man waits in line for his to-go Thanksgiving meal at Father Joe's in downtown San Diego, Nov. 24, 2021.

Besides a Thanksgiving meal, people were also given a holiday care package.

“It will provide socks to keep their feet warm, also some sunglasses to shade their eyes," he said. "We know especially as you age, you could develop cataracts, so shielding the eyes is important and there’s also hygiene products as well."

Father Joe’s Villages' 20th annual Turkey Trot 5K takes place on Thanksgiving. The funds raised help feed the homeless through its meal program.