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ELLEN'S KITCHEN

25,000 guests for Thanksgiving- the 25th annual San Antonio Raul Jimenez Dinner

Started by a single man and his family, this community feast now fills the San Antonio Convention Center. It is the continuous serving of free turkey dinners with all the traditional trimmings— green beans, cranberry sauce, yams, rolls, dressing and gravy, and pumpkin pie- to all comers, beginning at 10:30 a.m. and continuing through 5 p.m. A simple non-denominational service preceeds the event at 9:30 and live music by a variety of San Antonio musicians and singers continues throughout the day.

The tables are attractively decorated with donations from children's art projects and women's groups. Hosting is continuous, with many volunteers bringing their families to share the holiday meal with the guests. The city bus system makes free passes available on request so that no one misses dineer because of transportation problems.

Both corporate and private donors support this program, while over 4,000 volunteers make it happen. Professional chefs donate time to oversee the kitchens as the volunteer cooks begin on Monday, roasting and deboning 150 enormous Butterball turkeys daily, mixing stuffing and making gravy.

By the time the last diner is served, a huge amount of food has passed over the tables. Last year this included:

  • 9,000 pounds of turkey (400 to 450 turkeys),
  • 6,400 pounds of yams
  • 4,200 pounds of canned green beans
  • 7,860 pounds of stuffing
  • 1,300 pounds of cranberry sauce
  • 3,000 pumpkin pies
  • 32,000 dinner rolls
    An estimated 400 gallons of turkey gravy and around 400 pounds of butter completed the meal. Coffee, tea and milk were available. Although Mr. Jimenez died in 1999, his family continues to be involved in the event, which has its own website here.
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