As Grace Community Food Pantry’s Team Feed Flagler prepared for its annual Thanksgiving Day meal donations, Food Pantry Coordinator Dottie Colletta said Winn-Dixie completely surprised them by donating 170 turkeys to the pantry.
“One hundred and seventy turkeys they just gave us. Gave us,” Colletta said. “It was unbelievable. God was just moving around.”
This is Feed Flagler’s 15th year organizing food for local churches to cook hot Thanksgiving Day meals. This year, the team is working with churches to distribute food for more than 1,000 Thanksgiving meals.
At 8 a.m. on Nov. 17, in the pouring rain, Colletta and volunteers showed up at Winn-Dixie at 1260 Palm Coast Parkway NE to buy the food — dinner rolls, potatoes, gravy, green beans and pies for dessert.
Feed Flagler spent around $2,000 that morning on the food alone, Colletta said, and that was after a discount from Winn-Dixie.
Team Feed Flagler has purchased food for the Thanksgiving Day meals at Winn-Dixie since the pandemic in 2020 shut down the pantry’s annual food drive.
Colletta said her team of volunteers begins preparing for the Thanksgiving meals in May, even as, throughout the year, Grace Food Pantry continues to hand out food every weekend to families in need.
“The need never stops,” she said. “This team here — I wouldn’t be able to do it [without them].”
Winn-Dixie store manager Bob Storms said he has been working with the pantry each year since the pandemic to organize the food orders. Normally the store orders the turkey, but this year, Storms said, the company said it wouldn’t be able to fill any large orders because of high demand.
“Then, at the last minute, they were able to get them just in time for [Team Feed Flagler], so we were happy to see that work out,” he said.
Storms said there are a lot of unfortunate people out there on hard times. He said he’s honored to work with a company that sees the need to help the local community.
“Anytime, as a community, we can help each other — it's just people taking care of people,” he said. “I think that is a great thing we can do.”
The grocery chain also donated $6,500 to Feed Flagler earlier in the year, Colletta said, and helped the pantry arrange gift cards. Colletta has 1,087 $40 gift cards for families to use to buy groceries.
Santa Maria Del Mar Catholic Church and Hammock First Baptist Church will each host Thanksgiving dinners from 3-6 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 22.
First United Methodist Church in Bunnell will serve Thanksgiving Day meals from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 23. Palm Coast United Methodist Church will serve takeout only meals at the same time.
Volunteer Deborah Snedeker said that Feed Flagler would like to serve even more people if other churches or nonprofit organizations join in next year.
“The more, the merrier,” Snedeker said. “There's a lot of people in Flagler County on fixed income, a lot of retired people.”
The sit-down meals at the churches will not just be paper plates, either.
“When we say a sit-down dinner, we mean table clothes, real silverware,” she said. “It’s done very nicely. … [People] feel welcome. They feel like it’s a family thing.”