Outdoor Thanksgiving aims to combat 'housing and food insecurity'

Thanksgiving is a day rooted in good food, family time and gratefulness, but for some, just getting a meal together can be tough. A warm meal was only part of the community celebration during a third annual outdoor Thanksgiving feast in Milwaukee Thursday, Nov. 26.

When they started around noon, they had so many tables lined with groceries and more. By the end of the event, hundreds of families had full bellies and supplies for winter.

At the corner of 35th Street and Center Street, Sequanna Taylor and "Dream Team United" set out to make a difference on Thanksgiving.

"This is usually the time when a lot of people spend with their families loving, eating and having a jolly old good time," said Taylor. "Given that it is COVID, a lot of people are staying home, but even pre-COVID, we know there's a housing and food insecurity in our community."

In a year when so many have lost their jobs or loved ones, the holidays can prove problematic. Organizers said they were hopeful a warm Thanksgiving meal would lighten the burden.

"Just to make sure that we are servicing our community," said Taylor. "We are helping those in need. In holiday or no holiday, I always believe that you give back."

This year, it was more than a meal. Farina Brooks, who first organized the feast, saw a need greater than just turkey and stuffing -- working with community partners to collect coats and gloves and a lot of groceries so families could get whatever they need in one place.

"The element is really just to love and serve the people of the community, and let them know that we love them and care -- and for people to see that Milwaukee is a loving city," said Brooks.

Organizers said they're looking to expand this event beyond Thanksgiving -- including some Christmas dinner celebrations. They served around 300 people in 2020.