Thousands of people were served a free pre-Thanksgiving meal Tuesday in the Texas Southmost College’s Jacob Brown Auditorium in Brownsville.
H-E-B hosted the 23rd annual Feast of Sharing event in which many employees and volunteers came together to feed the members of the community.
This year, H-E-B sponsored the event in 31 cities across Texas and Mexico to give back to the community. The 25th Feast of Sharing in McAllen was held Sunday.
The Feast of Sharing tradition started with H-E-B’s founder.
“Florence Butt, our founder, she actually would go and deliver baskets of holiday dinner fixings to people along the Guadalupe River that didn’t have enough ability to be able to have a holiday dinner,” said Yvonne Loflin, H-E-B’s border region public affairs specialist.
The line to get inside started at the entrance of the auditorium and spread over the Jacob Brown lawn and onto the Texas Southmost College general parking lot.
While waiting in line, people enjoyed entertainment from the band Explosión and by the H-E-Buddy.
People who already had their holiday meal could get free popcorn outside and some were even dancing along to the music.
“It’s pretty cool because they give you food; they are giving enough food to the community,” said Mary Jane Figueroa, a Brownsville resident who attended the event. “It feels good eating for free.”
Inside the auditorium, hundreds of volunteers were helping to serve plates that contained sliced turkey breast with brown gravy and sides of mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, stuffing, vegetables, a dinner roll accompanied with butter and a slice of pumpkin pie for dessert.
“I thought it was important to give back to my community,” said Denise Velazquez, a UTRGV nursing sophomore who helped to serve the food. “I think it’s a very good event; it brings the best in the community. Everyone just comes together.”
The cooks, who were located in a mobile kitchen behind the auditorium, produced food for 2,500 to 3,000 plates per hour. They began preparing the food before sunrise.
There were 3,000 pounds of turkey, 2,000 pounds of mashed potatoes, 2,000 pounds of vegetables, 120 gallons of brown gravy and 10,000 slices of pumpkin pie served at the event, Loflin said.
“I think it’s a humbling experience to see people from all walks of life,” said Cindy Navarrete, an H-E-B employee who volunteered at the event. “It’s really an eye opener to see how blessed we are when we see people that are less fortunate that come in and enjoy this feast with their families.”
Volunteers at the event included representatives from CVS Pharmacy, Whataburger, Rivera Early College High School, IDEA charter school, UTRGV and TSC students.
“This is a way of starting the holiday season to bring hope and cheer to our community and our way to allow them to be at our table with a free meal,” Loflin said.