Everyone Eats boosts capacity for Thanksgiving Dinner

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Everyone Eats Brandon, which is brought together in partnership by John Howard Society of Brandon and Brandon University Food Services, is ramping up for Thanksgiving. The popular program, which provides curbside and volunteer delivery meals three evenings a week, is adding extra capacity to provide loads of turkey and all the trimmings this weekend.

Nicholas Namespetra

“Normally, we budget for 200 meals each evening, but when we saw how some of the traditional community Thanksgiving meals have been hampered by the pandemic, we knew we had to step up,” said Nicholas Namespetra, Manager of Food Services at Brandon University, who coordinates the program. “For Thanksgiving, we’re preparing 300 full turkey dinners, which we’ll have hot and ready on Sunday.”

By limiting each day’s menu to just one meal, costs are trimmed down as far as possible – each meal can be provided for just a few dollars in direct costs. Meals are offered on a pay-what-you-can model, with a suggested donation that covers the cost of the meal plus a couple of dollars more, which supports free or lower-cost meals for people who need them.

“The suggested donation for most meals is $10, but many people pay double or even triple that. What we hear is that many people enjoy the ‘pay it forward’ aspect of Everyone Eats and they round up their costs to what they expect to pay for a full night out,” Namespetra said. “For Thanksgiving, we’re suggesting an $11 base donation, which lets us make this an extra special meal as well as supporting greater needs from people who are short on cash heading into the holidays.”

The special Thanksgiving dinner includes all the traditional favourites: turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes with gravy, Brussels sprouts, a bread roll and pumpkin pie for dessert.

Everyone Eats is a partnership with the John Howard Society and partially supported through other community donations, run out of the BU’s Harvest Hall kitchen and dining area. With chef-inspired meals offered on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday evenings, the program provides nutritious and delicious options for people in Brandon.

Logo features a circle with a fork bending around it and the words "Everyone Eats Brandon" at the bottom“This is not a profit-focused endeavour, in fact every dollar that comes in goes right back to supporting the program,” said Ross Robinson, Executive Director of the John Howard Society of Brandon. “It is hugely successful in terms of building food security and self-worth in our community, and in reducing stigma.”

This Thanksgiving meal is also a trial for a planned Christmas dinner project. With volunteers helping to pack and even deliver a small number of meals to those who can’t make a curbside pickup, it is a community building exercise in more ways than one.

“This has been a tough year, but you are not alone, you are not forgotten,” said Ted Dzogan, President of the John Howard Society of Brandon. “You belong to this community. We are all grateful to have you counted as one of us.”

The redesigned website makes ordering a breeze, at EveryoneEatsBrandon.ca. Orders can be made by 2 p.m., normally for pickup between 4–6 p.m. at BU. Thanksgiving dinner pickup is being expanded to start at 3 p.m. Orders can also be phoned in to 204-571-8524. Weekly menus are posted online and on Facebook at EveryoneEatsBrandon.

Along with Sunday Thanksgiving dinner, Everyone Eats is offering bangers and mashed tonight, chicken à la king with white and wild rice tomorrow, and Szechuan pork on Friday, with an all-new menu lineup every week.


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