Feeding Hundreds of Wildfire Survivors a Warm and Healthful Thanksgiving Meal

A beautiful Thanksgiving meal

Many of us have large Thanksgiving gatherings. But what if you had more than 400 people to feed in one day?

That’s exactly what six food vendors contracted with the Oregon Department of Human Services Emergency Management Unit did throughout Oregon for 410 people displaced by various disasters.

Not only did they provide the meals, but they also delivered them, and made sure the meals were culturally specific, according to Jeff Gilbert. He leads the statewide feeding task force to help people recovering from the September wildfires.

Oregon’s emergency operations plan gives ODHS responsibility to support Oregonians during emergencies and recovery, in keeping with the department’s primary role to assist people in meeting their basic needs while moving toward independence.

The B’nai B’rith Camp has been the sole feeding vendor for all fire survivors in Lincoln County for more than a year. They involve students in the community to help in their operation.

Colleen Brainerd from Cravings Fine Food Catering moved her entire family’s own Thanksgiving celebration and dinner so that they could come together to make the meal wonderful for the wildfire survivors. Her family then celebrated Sunday. Brainerd and her team have been the sole feeding vendor in Lane County for more than a year.

Here are all the food vendor heroes and the numbers of people they fed by county this Thanksgiving:

  • Jackson County: Rogue Food Unites, 35 meals
  • Klamath County: Rogue Food Unites, 31 meals
  • Lane County: Cravings Fine Foods, 135 meals
  • Lincoln County: B’nai B’rith Camp, 89 meals
  • Marion County: The Kitchen on Court Street, 21 meals
  • Various counties: Sassy Onion, 99 meals, including Afghan refugees, so these were culturally specific (halal) meals and not traditional American cuisine).

There are still more than 900 people throughout Oregon affected by various disasters that the ODHS Emergency Services Unit is assisting in various ways.

About Author

Christine Decker is a Public Affairs Specialist for the Oregon Department of Human Services. Before working in communications she was a working journalist.

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