Thanksgiving is coming, and for far too many people (and animals) — it’s a tragic time. Whether it’s turkeys facing slaughter or humans without enough food to feed their families, the holiday can be anything but enjoyable.
But Jon Stepanian, founder of Long Island, New York’s Community Solidarity (CS), wants to make it a joyful occasion for all. He and his team are planning the world’s largest vegan Thanksgiving this weekend, and intend to serve between 3,500 and 6,000 people.
“On one side, millions of animals are killed for Thanksgiving and on the other side there are thousands of people in our community who go hungry,” Stepanian tells Latest Vegan News. “We wanted to create an event that would help those people while promoting cruelty-free healthy living.”
The group (which is the nation’s largest vegetarian hunger relief organization) is known for its amazing food shares, which they hold weekly in different cities across Long Island. The shares are, essentially, vegan markets, and people can come and pick up the supplies they need, as well as enjoy delicious prepared vegan foods.
Technically, the Thanksgiving bonanza stretches from the 21st through 30th, but the biggest part of the weeklong effort will be an all night cooking party on Nov. 21 that culminates in a Vegan Thanksgiving Food Share in Hempstead on Nov. 22. Everyone is invited, and volunteers are welcome.
Last year’s event was huge, but CS is hoping this year’s is even bigger.
“Last year we shared over 85,000 pounds of produce, groceries and clothing with over 5,500 people in the first two hours,” Stepanian explains. “The line was 19 blocks long! We also shared a few thousand plates of gourmet vegan hot meals and desserts.”
People are welcome to show up the day of to help, to to attend any of the group’s other weekly shares in Farmingville, Wyandanch, Bedstuy, or Huntington. While the Thanksgiving event is a special occasion — it’s not unique for CS. The group shares free groceries with thousands of people every single day.
“There are over 180k people on Long Island who have trouble putting food on the table and during the holiday season the stress to provide for one’s family can be even greater. The average person coming to this year’s Vegan Thanksgiving Bonanza will be getting over $120 of free groceries; enough to provide for their families with their own Thanksgiving feasts in addition to all of their weekly grocery needs.”
On average, a person who comes to one of the CS shares each week will get most of the produce and groceries they need, and in a year, an average family of four will save $4,160, Stepanian says.
“That money provides wiggle room to make up that extra mortgage payment, or an unexpected expense. Over 18 years, those savings add up to over $74,880 or enough to send two kids to college!”
Now that’s something to be thankful for. To learn more about Community Solidarity and get involved with their efforts, visit CommunitySolidarity.org.