Nearly 600 needy families in Louisville received food that will be served on their Thanksgiving dinner tables as The Lord's Kitchen distributed frozen turkeys and boxes of food during its annual Thanksgiving Family Food Box Giveaway on Tuesday at Churchill Downs. [asset|height=12|width=1][asset|height=12|width=1]
Hundreds of people were lined up at the Gate 1 entrance to the famed home of the Kentucky Derby when the doors opened at noon (EST) for the holiday food giveaway, which was conducted by The Lord's Kitchen in the track's Paddock Pavilion for the second consecutive year.
The Lord's Kitchen, which is located just a few blocks from the historic racetrack at 2732 South 5th Street, is in its 20th year of serving the needs of needy families and residents in the neighborhood. Rev. Larry Coleman, the director of The Lord's Kitchen, estimated that more than 570 families were provided at Tuesday's event with food boxes that contained canned goods and non-perishable items sufficient to feed a family of four.
The distribution included 450 turkeys - 100 of which had been donated by Churchill Downs. Members of the staffs at Churchill Downs and Churchill Downs Incorporated donated food items for the event and volunteered to help in the distribution of the food boxes in the Paddock Pavilion.
"It's been a great day in our community," said Rev. Coleman. "Churchill Downs is one of our closest corporate neighbors, and it's just been a great day to be able to touch families at Thanksgiving time. We gave out turkeys and all the fixings to go with that. We serve 365 days a year at The Lord's Kitchen - every day we're serving families."
Coleman has been with The Lord's Kitchen since its first day of operation on Christmas Day 1988. He said the need for the Thanksgiving Family Food Box Giveaway and for the daily services offered by his organization has grown sharply in recent weeks as the turmoil in the American economy has worsened.
"The need has really increased - we're seeing even middle class individuals come," Coleman said. "Individuals normally walk to our facility, but now some are driving up in pretty nice automobiles. You see a lot of people who've lost their jobs. We're serving a lot of different groups of people now."
"We were very happy to help out last year when Rev. Coleman called and said The Lord's Kitchen needed more space to accommodate the growing number of people served in its Thanksgiving food giveaway," said Dana Johnson, director of community relations for Churchill Downs. "Our employees quickly embraced this event and have donated their time and energy - along with needed food items - to help make this event a success. We applaud the work that Rev. Coleman and the staff and volunteers of The Lord's Kitchen for the important work they perform in our neighborhood every day and Churchill Downs is proud to be a partner with the organization in that work."
Coleman said that, while The Lord's Kitchen serves meals to needy families every day, more volunteers are would be needed to help in the serving of meals at the South 5th Street facility on both Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. As many as 350 meals are expected to be served on each of those days. Those interested in volunteering or donating food to The Lord's Kitchen should call (502) 964-3304 ext. 1250.