Free Holiday meals switch to take out/delivery service due to coronavirus pandemic

Local News

GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) — “Typically it gets really busy because, because of the holidays,” Terri Refsguard, Executive Director at the NEW Community Shelter said of the upcoming weeks and months.

The shelter has had to shake up how they operate during the coronavirus pandemic.

That will include Thanksgiving.

“Within the last nine months we’ve had to go to takeout meals for community meal,” Refsguard said. “So we no longer have everybody seated in the dining room for Thanksgiving meal like we used to.”

Switching entirely to take-out has come with a cost.

Refsguard told Local 5 that the shelter has been distributing take out meals daily instead of offering sit-down community meals.

“It’s tripled from what it was a year ago,” she said. “Simple things like the Styrofoam containers are I think 30 cents for each container, and we’re serving about 450 meals a day.”

The shelter expects those numbers to be even higher on Turkey Day.

“People aren’t going to go to family and friends’ homes, there’s not a great deal else happening in the community because of Covid,” Refsguard said.

There is the Christian Outreach Ecumenical Thanksgiving Meal.

“For over 15 years at Lambeau Field [we have been} putting on the Thanksgiving meal on Thanksgiving day,” Amanda Wery, Community Outreach Senior Coordinator for the Green Bay Packers told Local 5 of the effort.

This year,that meal won’t be served in the Lambeau Field Atrium.

“In the past we’ve done both delivery and a sit down meal,” Wery said, “but it’ll be all delivery this year.”

The meal is offered free to those in need.

“When we talk in need, it might be financial status, it might be hunger relief, it also might be social interaction,” Wery explained.

Even without the venue, demand for a Thanksgiving meal is high.

“This year was probably the fastest that we’ve ever filled up for reservations for delivery,” Wery said. “We are full now at this point.”

Back at the NEW Community Shelter, free meals will be for the taking come Thanksgiving, despite the cost.

“People count on us,” Refsguard said, “whether it’s for a bed or whether it’s for a meal. And we need them to feel comfortable knowing that we will always be here.”

The NEW Community Shelter is in need of monetary donations to help fund that effort.


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