LANDOVER – More than 2,000 families pushed shopping carts through an assembly line at FedExField to receive an array of traditional Thanksgiving foods, including stuffing, potatoes, corn and whole turkeys.
During the 15th annual Redskins Harvest Feast on Nov. 20, 2,500 low-income families in Prince George’s County received the makings of a full Thanksgiving meal. The Harvest Feast is run through the Washington Redskins Charitable Foundation.
Jane Rodgers, the executive director of the Washington Redskins Charitable Foundation, said volunteers handed out more than 90,000 pounds of perishable and canned foods and 30,000 pounds of turkey. Since 2003, the Redskins have given more than 1.2 million pounds of packaged food and 520,000 pounds of turkey to area families.
Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker, III, commended the event for the help it brings members of the county.
“We think the program provides families in Prince George’s County with a Thanksgiving meal and a good time,” he said. “I also want to say to the Redskins how important this is. You know, it’s not just about having football on Sunday morning or on Sunday afternoon. It is about being part of the community and giving back.”
Rodgers said the 2,500 families equates to about 10,000 people “being able to sit around the Thanksgiving table together and enjoy what is a traditional American holiday.”
Redskins players Vernon Davis, Arie Kouandjio, Anthony Lanier II, Niles Paul, Terrelle Pryor and Chris Thompson were a few of the 150 volunteers that helped at the event.
Rodgers described the connection between the families and these athletes as a special moment.
“The team wanted to be able to support families coming together at the holidays and understood that not everyone had the resources to do so,” she said. “The Harvest Feast has always been about bringing together our partners to help our neighbors celebrate this holiday tradition.”
Prince George’s County Department of Social Services has helped identify the families the foundation distributes the food to for the past eight years.
“I think the Harvest Feast, while it is a great opportunity for families to receive the entire Thanksgiving meal, it is also an opportunity for families who are in need to know that their community supports them, and I think that is as valuable as the meal that they’re receiving,” said Gloria Brown Burnett, director of Social Services. “We hear on the day of, and sometimes in the offices, they’re always very appreciative, and comment on how much of a blessing getting that is. Because while they may be beneficiaries of the SNAP program, where they get the food stamp assistance, buying for a meal that you can use your whole month budget to purchase for Thanksgiving.”
About 3,200 families applied to this year’s Harvest Feast. Applications were chosen on a first come, first served basis. The other families who were not chosen were directed to other programs, such as Holiday Sharing, where they could receive similar services.
The 2017 Harvest Feast would not have happened without the support from by Ryan Homes, Bank of America, Shoppers Food & Pharmacy, Performance Foodservice of Maryland, Capital Area Food Bank, PepsiCo, Prince George’s County Social Services and the Washington Redskins Charitable Foundation.