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Close to 6,000 Detroiters given free holiday meal

Posted at 10:29 PM, Dec 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-24 22:35:11-05

DETROIT, Mich. (WXYZ) — This Christmas it’s so easy to focus on what we don’t have, that often we take for granted the things we do have.

“Before this we were fine. I was fine, I was making good money," said Detroit single mother of three Jeanetta Riley. "But this right here? This pandemic? We’re not fine right now.”

Riley lost her job back in March. Now she’s still unemployed, helping her daughter with schoolwork while she's learning from home.

“I have to figure out what bills I'm gonna pay, I have to figure out if my daughter is OK”

Added on to that list of worries, is a nice Christmas dinner. Something she may not have been able to afford, without some support.

“I want Detroiters to know that they’re cared about and that they’re loved," said Chef Phil Jones with Make Food Not Waste. "Folks here understand the pain and understand the need, and you’re not alone.”

Chef Jones and a team of chefs spent all week making ready to bake Christmas meals, set to feed nearly 6,000 Detroiters.

“Being able to know you gave a wonderful, tasty healthy holiday meal at no cost, and lovingly prepared by a team of all women Black chefs, it’s just a great thing,” Chef Jones said.

“Food insecurity has increased by 30 percent through this pandemic," said Chef Ederique Guida, co-owner and executive chef of Gabriel Hall. "Right now 48% Detroiters are food insecure. That’s a large number of people.”

As Chef Guida said, that’s nearly half of Detroit who wakes up every day not knowing where their next meal is coming from. Despite struggles in their own industry, these chefs took time to provide a special meal for free.

“All we have is each other," Guida said. "Community means everything to me.”

To Jeanetta Riley, this meal means everything too. Not just for the food, but the love that went into making it.

"I hope that they know that they are being a blessing to the world right now in this time," Riley said of the chefs. "I would like to send my heartfelt thank you to them.”

The meals were distributed to local organizations that helped get them into the hands of families in need. Hungry Harvest also donated 5,000 pounds of produce to make this happen.