For many, this holiday season is filled with family visits and plenty of food. Unfortunately, COVID-19 is forcing many to rethink what those things mean this year.
For one family, the global pandemic is a time to establish new traditions and cook familiar dishes, even if they cannot gather everyone around the same table. “I kind of have a large family and my mother—she is 85 now—was the cook,” said Adam, a food pantry participant and volunteer. “We would go over to her house for holiday dinners. So that isn’t happening this year.”
Adam lives with his wife in the San Fernando Valley. A few years ago, he and his wife were in a motorcycle accident—she broke her spine. After the accident, neither of them were able to work their construction jobs, so they rely on disability and they are regularly coming to the food pantry.
Since Adam was a little kid, holiday meals always involved a piping hot turkey or ham, plenty of cakes and pies, and greens. This year is no different. He has a special baster that will inject the marinade right into the bird he is planning to fry. For dessert, he is making a couple of sour cream pound cakes plus, “my mother and my wife want me to make a German chocolate cake, and I want to make some banana pudding blend.”
It is an ambitious menu for a small gathering, but Adam inherited his mom’s love of cooking, and whatever they don’t eat they are planning to share.
Last year, with more leftover food at the end of their Thanksgiving dinner than they knew what to do with, Adam and his family decided to make up a bunch of plates and take it out to those experiencing hunger. They ended up giving away 10 plates of still-warm food to unhoused folks in their neighborhood.
“It just felt so good,” Adam said. “We thought, ‘Let’s try to feed 20 people this year.’ So that’s what we did. Even though we had fewer family members around the table this year, “we cooked the food up, made 20 plates, and went and fed 20 people,” Adam added.
One of those plates went to his mom so he could at least see her from a distance. By the sound of it, Adam’s mom and anyone else who received a meal from him this year were in for quite then treat.
Food and community are at the heart of what we do here at the Valley Food Bank, making this an extra special time of year for us. Despite family gatherings being scaled back or canceled altogether, we have still been distributing extra food this month to help our community make the holidays as special as possible.
Even if this holiday season has been one like no other, we want to ensure our community can still enjoy their celebratory family meals, no matter what form it takes.