Traditions were made to stand the test of time and persevere, even in the most difficult of circumstances. They bring people together to accomplish a common goal of upholding the values and beliefs that are passed on through each generation. For each tradition there is a story to tell, and many more stories to come, about the positive impact that it has had on the people who take part in it. This Holiday Season, this rings especially true for the Davis Food Co-op’s 35th Annual Holiday Meal.
The Holidays are a time for people to gather and enjoy food with loved ones but for many, they simply have no place to go or people to enjoy them with. It was for this reason that the Holiday Meal was started in 1985. An LGBTQ couple, who were both employees of the Co-op, had no plans for the Holidays because neither of their families would take them in. The couple, recognizing that there were others facing the same dilemma, organized a meal for any and all to attend. The event continued the following year, and every year since, evolving into a community wide effort on Christmas Eve to provide a free and warm meal for as many as 700 people. It brings together a broad spectrum of people from those in our Homeless community, UC Davis Students, Co-op Owners and anyone else looking for some Holiday cheer and good food.
As we look towards the monumental 35th Anniversary of the Holiday Meal, we cannot ignore the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on our community. Food insecurity in Yolo County is reaching unprecedented levels and our inability to gather has been devastating for such a tight knit community. For many, this year’s meal is more important than ever and that is why it is so important to keep this tradition alive. To ensure the safety of everyone involved, and to comply with current health guidelines, this year’s Holiday Meal will be a takeout only option instead of the traditional sit down gathering. While it is difficult to envision a Holiday Meal without live music gracing long tables full of people from our community, these necessary changes will provide a safe alternative to keep this tradition alive.
The Davis Food Co-op is offering this free takeout Holiday Meal on Thursday December 24th from 5-8pm at the Davis Veterans Memorial Center at 203 E 14th St in Davis. The meal is a traditional Thanksgiving style meal with the option of turkey or a vegan bake, stuffing, mashed potatoes & gravy, green beans, cranberry sauce, and a dinner roll. There will also be multiple dessert items that are donated by members of the community. Any leftover food from the Holiday Meal will be promptly donated to people facing food insecurity in our community. The Davis Food Co-op is also accepting clothing donations in store up until 12/23 to be available for anyone in need at the Holiday Meal. Any leftover clothing will be donated to HOPE at Davis, an organization of students at UC Davis that help provide resources for our Homeless population.
While the majority of this event will be coordinated and run by Davis Food Co-op employees, this event can only succeed because of the broad spectrum of people who support it. The Holiday Meal is also made possible by generous contributions from The City of Davis, The Davis Veterans Center, Sysco Foods, Putman Farms, Earl’s Organics, General Produce, Upper Crust Baking and others. Limited volunteer spots will also be available as needed to help run the event on the day of. The Co-op will also be accepting monetary, clothing and dessert donations from the public for the Holiday Meal:
Monetary donations can be made at the Co-op’s Eventbrite page or through a check sent to:
Davis Food Co-op
Attn: Vincent Marchese
620 G St
Davis, CA 95616
Clothing donations can be dropped off at the Co-op from 11/28 – 12/23. Information for volunteer sign ups and dessert donations will be available starting on Tuesday 12/8. Anybody that has questions about volunteering or donating can send an email to [email protected] or call Marketing Manager Vince Marchese at (530) 758-2667 ext. 152 for more information.
This free and festive dinner for the entire community is a remarkable Davis tradition and has become an important part of the Holiday celebrations of local people from all walks of life. Although this year’s meal will look different, one thing that will not change is the strength and ability of our community to pull together to provide a warm meal on Christmas Eve for all to enjoy.
by Vince Marchese, Marketing Manager of the Davis Food Co-op