While the United Boys & Girls Club wasn’t able to hold its traditional sit-down community Thanksgiving Dinner, an annual tradition since the late 1940s, because of COVID-19, the club still managed to feed 1,200 families with meals to go.
With the help of UBGC donors and Country Catering Company in Goleta, the club distributed pre-cooked dinners with roasted turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, green beans, rolls donated by El Encanto and Albertsons in Goleta and a bag of fruit for each family donated by The Berry Man.
All families then had to do was warm up the meals in the foiled pans and they were ready to enjoy.
“Just because of COVID this year doesn’t mean we were going to stop,” Laurie Leis, the executive vice president of advancement at UBGC, told the News-Press. “This year was important to us to make sure the families were still able to get a traditional Thanksgiving dinner.”
From Carpinteria to Lompoc, each of the seven clubs served 50 families of four. Families were able to RSVP for meals, and they drove or walked up to have the meals handed to them.
Ms. Leis said that without Country Catering and the fact that they couldn’t cook in the UBGC kitchens, the to-go meals likely wouldn’t have been possible.
“But, we pivoted and said, ‘We’re going to feed our families,’” Ms. Leis said. “Our families were so grateful and so thankful — it just brought tears to my eyes.
“I was just so grateful to work for an organization like this that puts its families first so nobody goes home hungry.”
Donations have also continued to help UBGC keep its doors open to provide a safe place for youth to go where they can have resources needed to keep up with remote learning.
Ms. Leis added that UBGC is launching a new food program next year to provide suppers to the kids.
“The zero hunger is really what our focus is next year with our kids and families to make sure no child goes hungry,” she said.