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Food and Friends to Deliver Thanksgiving Meals

Fifty-five members of the Food and Friends staff and 450 volunteers will prepare and deliver Thanksgiving dinners for 3,000 people this week, said Lisa Butenhoff, the communications manager for Food and Friends.

Food and Friends is a nonprofit organization that provides home-delivered, freshly prepared meals and groceries to people living with life-challenging illnesses like HIV/AIDS and cancer. The program gives its clients “the nourishment and TLC they need to fight their uphill battles.”

About half of the program’s clients have requested to receive Thanksgiving dinner, Butenhoff said. Each dinner provides enough food to serve at least four people, so the clients can host their family and friends, she said.

“Providing enough food for four people is a big deal,” Butenhoff said. “For once our clients can actually host their family and friends.”

Volunteers will help prepare 6,500 pounds of turkey, 900 pounds of mashed potatoes, 110 gallons of gravy and large quantities of other traditional Thanksgiving fare at Food and Friends today, Tuesday and Wednesday, she said. Volunteers can help in the kitchen for a two-hour shift Tuesday and Wednesday at 5 a.m., 7 a.m., 10 a.m. or 1 p.m.

Butenhoff described volunteering at Food and Friends for Thanksgiving as a “really neat experience.” The program usually has 750 volunteers a week, she said, but on Thanksgiving, different people volunteer and bring their spouses and children with them.

“Thanksgiving is about giving thanks and appreciating what you have,” she said. “Around the holidays, people are looking for a way to give back.”

Food and Friends moved to a new 25,000-square-foot facility in Northeast in October. “This Thanksgiving is particularly exciting because it’s our first Thanksgiving in our new building,” Butenhoff said.

The program’s nearly 1,100 regular clients live throughout Washington, D.C., as well as in 14 counties in Maryland and Virginia. Clients within the metro area will receive a freshly prepared meal on Thanksgiving Day.

Clients who live farther away will receive a “Turkey Box” today or Tuesday with all the fixings needed to prepare Thanksgiving dinner. Volunteers can deliver the “Turkey Box” meals at flexible times today and Tuesday.

Butenhoff said they are seeking volunteers to deliver the meals Thursday. Volunteers will deliver meals to two or three clients during the 8, 9, 10 or 11 a.m. shifts.

In addition to delivering food on Thanksgiving Day, volunteers can take part in an assembly line to make sure that the right food makes it into the delivery bags from 7:30 to 10 a.m. or 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Volunteers also can help with logistics like controlling traffic, greeting volunteers and helping load delivery bags into cars from 7 to 9:30 a.m. or 9:30 a.m. to noon.

To volunteer, call the Food and Friends Turkey Line at (202) 582-3463 or e-mail

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