WALLINGFORD — Local food pantry Master’s Manna kicked off its annual Turkey Tossing Two Days event on Monday by distributing complete turkey dinners to over 160 families.
Master’s Manna anticipated serving 500 families by the end of its second day which is Tuesday, Nov. 21 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Originally, the event took place on one day but due to the increase in families, it was extended into two days to accommodate everyone’s schedule.
The turkey dinners include a variety of items that are served in a typical American household on Thanksgiving — turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, gravy, vegetables, potatoes, and a dessert.
“Families will be able to choose the items that they want,” said Sue Heald, food pantry manager.
Christian Ochoa of Wallingford went to the event with his mother-in-law and daughter to pick up Thanksgiving essentials for their family dinner on Thursday. He got a turkey, bread, ice cream, potatoes and gravy among other items.
“Whether someone has money or not, this is a huge help for families during this time of year,” Ochoa said.
Ochoa has been stopping by the pantry for about 10 years and says that it’s been great to have support from the community.
“It’s a fun and gratifying thing that the pantry has been able to do,” said Carol Maturo, a volunteer of three years. “It’s a big help even if it’s just for one person. They are able to come and grab some items that may be costly at grocery stores.”
Vickie Gerace, volunteer, says that it helps families be able to use their money for other bills.
“Everything has gone up in price and it’s been amazing to see Master’s Manna help out,” she said.
During the event, Bob McKenzie, board of directors member at Master’s Manna, was handing out turkeys.
Upon arriving, families would check in and get a ticket which they would hand to McKenzie at the end of their shopping.
First, families would choose their side items like gravy, potatoes, vegetables, stuffing, and then they would grab a dessert. Finally, they would get a turkey that was big enough for their family.
McKenzie would ask whether they had a big or small family, and then hand them an appropriate sized turkey based on their answer.
“This event has been going on for over 10 years,” McKenzie said. “We are dedicated to helping the community.”
Master’s Manna has been in the community since 2006 with the mission to serve the homeless, near homeless, and low-income families in the Wallingford and Meriden area.
In addition to the Turkey Tossing Two Days event, the pantry has its Pappas Family Food Pantry which is open Monday through Thursday.
Shopping hours are Monday and Wednesday from 3 to 6:30 p.m., and Tuesday and Thursday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Individuals are able to choose their items, so that no food goes to waste.
“We have around 100 people coming through our doors to shop a day,” McKenzie said. “We make sure that no family goes without.”