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Community Kitchen Inc. prepares to help hundreds of people in need

On Thanksgiving Day, families can stop by 640 S. Ohio Avenue for a free meal.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — While families are preparing Thanksgiving feasts for Thursday, many families in need are struggling to put a meal on the table, especially as food costs continue to rise.

In Columbus, Community Kitchen, Inc., is preparing to serve 500 people on Thanksgiving Day.

"I cooked between 80 and 90 turkeys. I'm having turkey, homemade dressing, giblet gravy, mac and cheese, and collard greens," said Della Smith, kitchen manager at Community Kitchen Inc. "We've panned up 25 pairs of mac and cheese. The collard greens are cut up and ready to go in that big kettle in the morning."

She said she began cooking turkeys in the first week of November. So far this year, Community Kitchen Inc. has served more than 130,000 meals. President and CEO MJ McCleskey said finding volunteers and the cost of food make things difficult.

"With inflation and people still recovering from covid, donations have been down a lot. So, we supplement a lot of our things through the Mid-Ohio Food Bank, and we've also you know just have to purchase a lot of things where in previous years we did not have to spend as much," she said.

Despite the challenges, Della said they're thankful people can come and enjoy a warm meal.

"They can come in and know that they're welcome number one, and that they wanted here," said Della.

The food pantry is closed on Thanksgiving Day. Free meals will be served starting at 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. at 640 S. Ohio Avenue.

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