SCARBOROUGH — Thanksgiving Scarborough’s fifth annual dinner will be served to-go on Nov. 25, but organizers are still feeling the sense of community that has become expected of the event.
Hosted by the Scarborough School Nutrition Program, Scarborough Community Services, local nonprofit Project GRACE, and various other local groups, the free holiday meal offers everything that comes from a traditional Thanksgiving dinner — turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, squash, green bean casserole, and a vegetable, said Peter Esposito, director of Scarborough and Cape Elizabeth School Nutrition.
Last year, Thanksgiving Scarborough served around 400 people, Esposito said. He is preparing for about 500 people this year.
This being the fifth community meal, Thanksgiving Scarborough draws in residents for a number of reasons, Esposito said.
“For one, they’re really good,” he said, laughing. “Two, the whole goal of why we did what we did is to have the sense of community and coming together as a group. I think they appreciate that very much. There are some people alone on the holidays. They can’t travel or there’s older folks by themselves.”
Although the dinners are to-go this year, Esposito said that town staff, various departments, organizations and sponsors are still helping dinners get out to residents.
“I can’t say enough about the people involved, the Police Department and all that,” he said.
Orders and reservations are being taken through Nov. 20, the Friday before Thanksgiving, at thanksgivingscarborough.org. A donation is recommended but not required, said the website. Contactless pickup will take place on Nov. 25, with times to be announced.
Esposito said that the prepared dinners will be distributed in heatable containers. Various departments like the police and community services are helping with the pickup process.
“We’re going to put (the dinner) in the trunk and cars can drive off,” he said. “We’ll make sure there’s no contact whatsoever.”
Online orders are preferred, but people can also call 730-4700, the Thanksgiving Scarborough website said.
People may not be able to meet face-to-face for a sit-down dinner, but Esposito said that the community element is a large component of the annual meal.
“It’s a family thing — I guess it’s probably from how I was brought up,” he said. “There were some who weren’t able to make their own meal, and it kind of sparked and just grew from there. I think it’s important as far as getting everyone together, especially in the current climate with how people have acted and whatnot. I’d say it’s a great community builder for everyone involved. It brings all different walks of life together, all different departments in the town.”
The preparation of the meals also provides a close-knit, community-driven atmosphere, Esposito said.
“Yes, it’s work and it’s a lot of work, but it’s a fun thing,” he said.