By staff writer Symone Tripodis
Starting this November, the Old Town Commercial Association will
partner with Cristo Rey Community Center to reach more families in need of a Thanksgiving meal.
For the last 14 years, OTCA has independently held Compassionate Feast, an event that calls on volunteers and donations from the Lansing community to help package all the food and ingredients necessary to cook a Thanksgiving meal at home. OTCA director and Compassionate Feast organizer, David Such, said that OTCA was looking to partner with an organization to help them with the event that has grown too large for them to handle on their own this year.
“That’s where Cristo Rey came in,” said Such. “We needed help in everything from gathering donations to packaging.”
A Partnership for Tradition
George Alvarado, director of marketing and development at Cristo Rey Community Center, said that Cristo Rey has always held its own Thanksgiving Day event. For the past 31 years, Cristo Rey kitchen volunteers have provided and transported meals to those in need. Alvarado said Cristo Rey is happy to collaborate their efforts with OTCA and create a partnership for Compassionate Feast.
“What we do at Cristo Rey is help,” said Alvarado. “So when OTCA asked us to partner with them, it was a no brainer, a perfect fit.”
Such said that Compassionate Feast started not only to provide meals to families that were going without but to also provide the means to create family traditions.
“We give these families everything they need to cook the meal in their own homes with their families so that they can have traditions rather than standing in a mass food line on the holiday,” said Such.
Cheryl Danley, an Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy fellow, said that it is very important for families to have traditions when it comes to meals.
“Food is more than nutrition,” said Danley. “It is culture and a bonding experience that is critical for well-being.”
Then and Now
Lousie Gradwhol, OTCA executive director, said that last year’s Compassionate Feast fed around 800 people of the Lansing community. This year, they are estimating that 1,500 people in the Lansing area will have Thanksgiving meals because of the partnership with Cristo Rey.
“In the past we have given to organizations such as Capital Area Community Services and Christian Services in greater Lansing,” said Gradwhol. “We are hoping with Cristo Rey’s help, we will be able to accommodate the increasing need for these meals.”
OTCA said that they pride themselves on community empowerment as
their mission and the more the community works together, the better Compassionate Feast will be.