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Food pantries offer food and community safely this Thanksgiving

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Residents receive a prepared meal at the Thessalonica Christian Church during a distribution on October 22, 2020 in New York City.

Demand at soup kitchens has grown so much during the pandemic that serving into the night is the only way to get food to everyone safely. Spencer Platt/Getty Images

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Every year, community kitchens and shelters feed millions of Americans, many of them homeless, on Thanksgiving. This year, the need will be even greater, and it will stretch far beyond Thanksgiving.

Feeding America says 1 in 6 people will experience food insecurity by the end of the year. Organizations in New York City are working to safely provide both food and comfort this holiday.

Masbia Soup Kitchen Network has three locations in Brooklyn and Queens, and they’re now serving meals 24 hours a day, five days a week.

“It’s just so sad that people can be so dire that, 3 a.m., if that’s the slot that they can get, that’s the slot they’ll take,” said Alexander Rapaport, executive director of the soup kitchen network.

Rapaport said demand has grown so much during the pandemic that serving into the night is the only way to get food to everyone safely. That includes Thanksgiving. And, there are other changes.

“People used to come in and have like a restaurant. But now it’s all to-go,” Rapaport said.

The Bowery Mission in Manhattan is also dishing up turkey dinner to-go, with a side of face masks. And there’ll be tables outside with music and decorations.

“People gather around the table and have conversations with perfect strangers. So we’re hoping some of that happens on Thanksgiving Day in a safe way,” said James Winans, president and CEO of the mission.

Because these aren’t just places to get a hot meal. They’re communities for people who may not have them.

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