Be thankful for thanksgiving’s bounty

Fort Lee volunteers load food donations into a van for distribution to families in need prior to Thanksgiving 2017.

Hot roasted turkey, glazed ham, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, stuffing, buttered rolls, cinnamon-laced applesauce, baked macaroni and cheese, cranberry sauce and hefty helpings of gravy and pie will adorn Thanksgiving tables Thursday.

The very mention of these delectable dishes leaves one salivating and eliminates any doubt as to why the average American household looks forward to this annual guilt-free day of food consumption. But Thanksgiving is also about community. Its earliest origins involved American Indians sharing the harvest and families coming together to build relationships.

Consider the Mayflower settlers ... by the fall of 1621 they had lost almost half of their original 102 people due to illness and insufficient nutrition. Native Americans came to their rescue, showing them how to properly cultivate the land and grow crops. Those actions were key to the settler's survival and, that same year, they celebrated their first successful harvest.

What can we learn from that example?

While most of us will have a comfortable and filling Thanksgiving, many are facing the fact they cannot afford a meal, let alone a family feast. For them, cranberry sauce and buttered rolls are a luxury. Mashed potatoes and green bean casserole aren't a possibility and roasted turkey is a distant memory.

If there is one time of the year to ponder the troubles of others, Thanksgiving is it. As the average household sits down to a feast, there are too many people with nothing to serve. Food pantries are under-stocked more than ever before and the former middle-class has become a new daily patron.

Area food pantries are always looking for staple items: canned tuna or chicken, soups and stews, rice, pasta, canned vegetables, cereal, oatmeal, canned fruits, tomato sauce, peanut butter, fruit juice and dehydrated milk. This year, while making the next family food purchase, consider buying these items too and taking them to the local food pantry. Some stores even offer convenient drop boxes for non-perishables and/or pre-bagged items that shoppers can contribute toward.

There is a food bank in nearly every locality. The following is a list of those found with a quick Google search:

Many of these organizations and community supporters are conducting food drives as well. Chesterfield Food Bank is running its “60,000 Pound Challenge” through Nov. 30. The 2019 Wegman’s Turkey Trot is tomorrow, 9 a.m., University of Richmond, Tyler Hanes Commons, 28 Westhampton Way, Richmond.

With a simple act of participation, you could help a struggling family put meals on the table this holiday season and give homeless individuals shelter and food. That’s the recipe that warms the heart while we enjoy filling our tummies.