We always do an annual Thanksgiving meal donation to Northwestern Settlement for 400 people so those in need can enjoy all the delicious traditions of a Thanksgiving meal. COVID-19 has destroyed our industry and continues to have a profound impact on our company. The events industry has been hit the hardest and so many of our favorite companies have already closed their doors. We have been hit hard, really hard, but there are so many people that are in need more than us. We really weren’t sure how we were going to make any donation work this year because of COVID-19. That is until we got a little help from our friends!
A good friend gave us the great idea to see if our loyal clients would help, and they showed up big. When we launched our Thanksgiving menu, we offered the option to pay to donate a meal to a family of four in need. Their donation would pay for half of a small group package for four and Catering by Michaels would pay the other half. We still needed a little more help.
The Winnetka Board for Northwestern Settlement offered to apply the credit for their canceled gala to the cause as well. Associated Bank also had a credit on file with us from a canceled event and they very generously also donated their full credit to the cause. Catering by Michaels matched all those donations and instead of providing a meal for 400 this year, together, we were able to feed 7x more people this year than any previous year. Even during COVID-19 when our industry is struggling so much.
A Thanksgiving Donation – by the Numbers.
It is not an easy task, even in a normal year, to push out meals for 2,800 people in one day. Add to the equation COVID-19, a company working with a micro crew on an A/B schedule, supply chain issues and that feat is nearly impossible. But in all things with 2020 and COVID-19, you figure it out one step at a time.
This donation allowed us to bring 15+ people back from furlough that otherwise have had no work due to COVID-19. It also had a profound downstream impact on our vendors and farmers who we sourced all the ingredients from.
This donation was a full team effort, not only was our Kitchen team working like crazy to produce this much food, our Sales team, Operations team and our Owner all worked shifts in our Kitchen to make this happen. Fun fact – a team including myself, our Owner and 3 Event Coordinators spent 3.5 hours one evening cutting 3,000 pounds of potatoes.
We make all our food by hand – from scratch. Let’s talk some numbers and fun facts about the menu. Each small group Thanksgiving kit fed a family of four with leftovers. We made 700 total kits that would feed 2,800 people. Let’s break that down a little more. Together, we made 3,800 pounds of turkey, 1,400 pounds of mashed potatoes, 87.5 gallons of homemade turkey gravy, 1,575 pounds of homemade cornbread (700 loaves), 1,400 pounds of homemade stuffing, 87.5 gallons of scratch cranberry sauce, and 1,050 pounds of sautéed autumn vegetable medley. Each one of those items was packed by hand from our team into different containers, run through our packing machine, stickered with labels, and then packed into 700 large boxes with reheating instructions and loaded on two refrigerated trucks for distribution. We had a lot of late nights, a lot of laughs, and all our hearts so full of gratitude for what we were able to accomplish as a team to help so many people in need. Our Owner as well as two of our delivery drivers and our Event Producer were all onsite at Northwestern Settlement with their team of volunteers for the distribution and it was a magical day.
Giving Back Always Feels Good
This year has been full of so much stress and uncertainty, but one thing we can attest for sure is that there are always people in need, and you can always find a way to help. We had the capacity to help, and with a LOT of help from our friends, we all found a way and we are so grateful. We feel so lucky to have been a part of this – if you are not familiar with Northwestern Settlement, take the time to learn more about them and all the amazing initiatives they do to help so many people in need. If you feel inclined to give a donation to Northwestern Settlement, you can do that here – www.northwesternsettlement.org/give We are so proud to have been a part of this amazing team to donate to so many in need.
If you want to read or watch more about our donation, we got some amazing media coverage and you can click these links to learn more!