Bread & Broth hosts 27th annual Thanksgiving feast for those in need
Sometimes amid the excitement of stuffing, holiday themed drinks and a giant, succulent turkey sitting on the table, it can be easy to forget what Thanksgiving is really about.
Bread & Broth volunteers, however, have not. And on Monday, Nov. 21, the group prepared and served up its 27th annual Thanksgiving Dinner at St. Theresa Catholic Church for around 100 community members in need.
The line of men, women and children poured out of the building and onto the sidewalk as a room- and kitchen-full of 30 volunteers scurried to prepare a traditional Thanksgiving feast.
Sandy Bobman, one of Bread & Broth’s 200 volunteers, has been a part of the nonprofit for 10 years.
“I felt that it was time to give back,” said Bobman at the holiday dinner. “Once I started with the program I could see the need in our small community. I know a lot of the diners by name, and I see them around town.”
Margarita Sanders, a Sacramento resident, has been volunteering at the Thanksgiving dinner for Bread & Broth with her husband and two daughters for eight years now.
“We come to mass here on Sundays when we visit, and we came across the fact that they were asking for help, so we decided that every Thanksgiving when we come for vacation, we would come and donate our time,” explained Sanders.
“It’s the people. It’s the joy on their faces.”
Her daughter Jessica, 12, was busy stuffing take-home bags filled with donated food items for the guests.
“I really like children, so my favorite part is getting to feed them here,” said the girl who has been volunteering since she was just 4 years old.
Started in 1989 by the Rev. John Grace as a multi-denominational food outreach program, Bread & Broth has dished up healthy, full-course meals to thousands of community members on Lake Tahoe’s South Shore over the years.
Grace, a retired pastor of St. Theresa Catholic Church, said the idea came to him when he decided that just distributing handouts, either in the form of money or canned goods, was not good enough.
“From the very beginning they were very grateful,” the 96-year-old Ireland native said.
“It was more than a soup kitchen. It was a warm full-course meal. Not only did we take care of the homeless, we took care of families in the community with children.”
“From the very beginning we had no trouble finding volunteers to staff the facility,” added Grace.
Fast-forward 27 years and Bread & Broth is still going strong.
Every Monday Bread & Broth serves approximately 100 dinner guests a well-balanced meal, which includes the option for seconds and take-home bags with fresh fruits, vegetables, bread and more.
In 2009 the group added a “second serving” in the form of a Friday meal, which consists of soup — donated by a local restaurant — and a simple entrée, as well as additional food to take home. Roughly 60 guests are served every Friday at the Lake Tahoe Community Presbyterian Church.
“It’s also about providing people a place where they feel safe and are treated with dignity and kindness,” said Carol Gerard, director of Bread & Broth.
Most recently, in October 2015, the organization added Bread & Broth 4 Kids, a program that provides weekend food bags containing seven meals and four snacks to disadvantaged students in the Lake Tahoe Unified School District. For the 2015-16 school year, the program provided food for 106 students. This year, the number was bumped up to 150.
“I will never forget the story a teacher told me about a little girl’s reaction to finding out there would likely be a snow day on Friday. ‘Where will we get food to eat?’ she said. It broke my heart,” recalled Gerard.
Bread & Broth operates thanks to the generous donations of time and money from South Shore residents.
Donors can make contributions to the general fund, which covers all programs, or “sponsor a student” through the Bread & Broth 4 Kids program. A one-week sponsorship is $5, one-month is $20, one-semester is $100 and one-school year is $200.
Individuals, families, organizations or businesses can also “adopt a nourishment day.” A $250 donation feeds on average 100 guests and covers the cost of food, meal preparation supplies and utility costs. Donors are encouraged to come assists with the setup, serving and cleanup.
“It’s an incredibly rewarding experience,” said Gerard.
For monetary donations, make checks payable to St. Theresa Bread & Broth, and mail to Bread & Broth c/o St. Theresa Church, 1041 Lyons Ave., South Lake Tahoe, Calif., 96150.