• November 28, 2020

Odessans give back with free meals - Odessa American: Local News

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  • A Time for Thankfulness

    Curb Side Bistro co-owner Alejandro Barrientos poses for a photo in his restaurant on Thursday, Nov. 12, 2020.

Posted: Sunday, November 22, 2020 4:30 am

Thanksgiving will have a different setting for most people this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, some are aiming to continue their annual tradition of offering free Thanksgiving meals in some form or another.

For Curb Side Bistro owner Alejandro Barrientos, he and his wife Stephanie still plan on having their annual free Thanksgiving lunch this year.

This will be the sixth straight year that Curb Side Bistro hosts a free Thanksgiving lunch.

It will take place from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. or when the food runs out at 3816 Andrews Highway.

“I’m hoping a lot more people show up this year,” Barrientos said. “Usually, we do about 500 and 600 (guests). This year, we’re shooting for about 800 and 1,000 guests.”

Because of the economy being negatively affected by the coronavirus, many businesses have closed this year and that has led to an increased number of people becoming unemployed and that is the reason why Barrientos expects to have more guests at this year’s lunch.

“People are out of jobs and when you stop and think about it, Thanksgiving is a luxury meal,” Barrientos said. “Not everybody is going to have enough for a meal, especially those who haven’t gotten paid or have to pay bills.”

While Curb Side Bistro plans on having people attend, they will also have to-go plates this year and will be practicing social distancing to keep everyone safe.

“We’re going to have our patio opened because we’re doing this to help our community,” Barrientos said. “We don’t want to endanger our community. All the volunteers have been amazing.”

For Barrientos, being able to put on this event this year has been even more crucial than in the past.

“I think that this year, more than any other year, we’ve been through a lot of trial and tribulations as a community and everything and we still have a lot more to be thankful for,” Barrientos said. “We have a lot more to be positive for. We’re just blessed. We’re surviving. We have our loved ones. You see that throughout the Odessa and Midland area as people are helping out each other.”

Barrientos said the preparation for the event takes about three days and a month full of planning.

They’ll cook anywhere between 25-30 turkeys.

The meal also includes ham, green bean casserole, stuffing, corn, mashed potatoes and a dessert.

“Anyone who’s ever cooked Thanksgiving for their families knows just how frustrating it can be,” Barrientos said. “Imagine that times 500 people. We start calling our local vendors and local suppliers. We start calling them and seeing what they can donate and the people who donate the turkeys and get a head count.”

Another organization that will be providing a free Thanksgiving meal, albeit in a different setting, is the Odessa Salvation Army.

From 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thanksgiving Day, the Odessa Salvation Army will be proving to-go meals in a drive-thru setting at its location at 810 E. 11th St.

Usually in the past, the Odessa Salvation Army has hosted a free Thanksgiving meal at its location but because of COVID and to keep everyone safe, Captain Clara Gomez says that they will only be handing out food instead.

“We’re going to have volunteers and us serving food and preparing it into to-go plates,” Gomez said. “We’re going to ask them how many plates they need and go that way.”

While Clara and her husband Juan are both happy to be able to put on this year’s event, they added that it is a struggle not to see everyone face-to-face.

“One of the biggest struggles that we’re seeing this year is that we’re so used to community,” Clara Gomez said. “Our doors are open every day but that’s one of the days where we see people come in from all different walks of life from the homeless to the elderly to those who are just coming in and sitting with someone. It’ll be tough this year to have that Thanksgiving spirit with their to-go plates. It’s a little heartbreaking for us because the holidays are one of the things that we look forward to and it’s going to look a little different for us.”

While many Thanksgiving luncheons have been canceled around the area this year because of the pandemic, it doesn’t eliminate the fact that this year, the need to be there for people is also important for the Salvation Army.

“It’s not just about feeding, it’s about seeing people and the thankful spirit,” she added. “We only see half the face now. We don’t see the whole face because everyone’s wearing a mask. It’s important for us to continue to serve, even in the capacity that’s way out of our hands. We’re trying to keep it as normal as possible even though it is what it is.”

Regardless of the setting, this Thanksgiving is still a time to reflect on everything and to count blessings, Juan Gomez said.

“The fantastic thing about Thanksgiving is that you’re just focused on nothing else other than the thankfulness that you have to be with family and friends,” he said. “During a year like this, that’s really important. It’s one of those things that really come to light about how blessed we are.”

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