FLAGLER COUNTY, Fla. (November 21, 2022) Being able to serve up more than a thousand hot meals for Thanksgiving may sound like a daunting task for a group of community volunteers but not for members of Team Feed Flagler.
After participating for 14 years Dottie Colletta has it down to a science and her coalition of volunteers across the community have been working since last week to fine-tune the particulars ahead of this week’s community dinner service.
“There’s a team between nine and ten organizations and churches that were able to give people food for Thanksgiving,” said Colletta. “It means everything for us.”
Picking up the necessary ingredients – or the fixins, to complete a traditional Thanksgiving dinner on Friday, Palm Coast Winn-Dixie store manager Michael Wininger was beaming with pride.
“We work with Feed Flagler throughout the year. They buy essentials – canned goods, boxed items for feeding the needy and we are more than happy to help them with whatever they are looking for throughout the year,” he said.
Serving the community is a big part of their mission and Wininger said staff was glad to lend a hand.
“It’s a great feeling that we can help contribute to the neighborhood that we are part of and just a great feeling from all that are involved in this.”
“They had to put a lot of extra effort into it for the pies. This was the easy part here with the gravy, the stuffing and the green beans, but the pies … and the rolls are coming in as a donation from Flowers Bakery. Our vendor partners are also part of this whole process,” Wininger said with gratitude.
Loading up the trucks on Friday members of Team Feed Flagler paused for a photo to commemorate the moment, recognizing a year that’s been especially difficult for Americans across the country, putting more pressure on food banks for support.
“There’s a bigger need than before because of the price of food,” said Colletta. “A turkey alone could be $20, $25. These are for the hot meals which will be for between 950 and 1,000 people that we will feed on Thanksgiving at four different organizations,” she said.
Dottie and her husband Sam Colletta also work closely with the Grace Community Food Pantry to serve families day-to-day staples.
“They will get their food this weekend. We’re doing between 850-900 cars every weekend. The need is great,” she said, sharing that sometimes multiple families are in a single vehicle.
It’s a tremendous responsibility to serve others in such a way, and Dottie said she relies on her faith to provide.
“I just trust in the Lord. That’s why we do it. We are his hands and feet, so we do what God is calling us to do. We took Feed Flagler over from the county. They originally started it. We went to every supermarket and Winn-Dixie said ‘we will do whatever you need us to do’. Every year they give us $5,000 cash and five percent off the gift cards plus get all this ready for us to take to the feedings. And no matter what we need, Winn-Dixie is here for us. They’re an amazing company,” she said.
Among the volunteers, Susan Stryker heads up a team of cooks providing meals weekly for the hungry at the First United Methodist Church in Bunnell.
She calls her service a blessing.
“About four years ago I went by our church, First United Methodist in Bunnell and stopped for meal, and I’ve been there ever since. I just fell in love with the ministry,” shared Stryker.
“Pre-COVID we were only doing about 50 or 60 meals, now, we feed about 250 people a week out of our kitchen every Wednesday at five o’clock.”
In addition to sit down meals that equate to a Wednesday night church supper, the team provides meals to those unable to travel to the church.
“We deliver 50 meals out to the Hammock every week. You think the Hammock’s a rich area but there’s a road out there called Shady Lane, where it’s the poorest of the poor. They can’t get to us so we box up takeout meals and deliver them over there every Wednesday,” she said. “I’ve been doing it forever and it still gives me goosebumps.”
She’s happy to help with the Thanksgiving meals again this year and says the team is prepped and ready.
“I just love it. It’s everything. We meet people from all walks of life and I just love on them all. It’s indescribable,” she said.
The First United Methodist Church in Bunnell will be one of four locations in Flagler County serving hot meals on before and on Thanksgiving.
Team Feed Flagler was also able to provide 1,205 Winn-Dixie gift cards for $40 each to families in need for the Thanksgiving holiday.
14th Annual Team Feed Flagler Thanksgiving Event
Hot Meals will be provided at the following locations on days/times noted:
Santa Maria del Mar Catholic Church: Wednesday, Nov 23rd, 3:00pm – 6:00pm
Hammock Baptist Church: Wednesday, Nov 23rd, 3:00pm – 6:00pm
First United Methodist Church of Bunnell: Thursday, Nov 24th, 11:00am – 2:00pm
Palm Coast United Methodist Church: Thursday, Nov 24th, 11:00am – 2:00pm (take-out meals only). Reservations required by Monday, Nov 21st by calling the church office at 386-445-1600.