KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Knox Area Rescue Ministries plans to feed 800 homeless and hungry people for Thanksgiving.
It's a yearly Thanksgiving tradition that is continuing even during the pandemic.
KARM is keeping up the more than 40-year tradition of serving a Thanksgiving meal for those who need it.
While the food will still be all the usual fixings, with 40 smoked turkeys and sides provided by Rothchild Catering, there will be some safety differences guests will notice.
"We are just in addition to feeding everyone a delicious Thanksgiving Day meal, doing everything that we can to keep them safe," KARM Communications Director Karen Bowdle said. "We've had a team working on this for weeks now and that has been at the top of their priority list."
To help accommodate social distancing, KARM is offering three dinner seatings: 10:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.
Seats will be spread out all throughout the facility and all areas will be cleaned in between each time slot. All 99 volunteers will be wearing masks and all guests will be offered a mask as soon as they walk through the door.
Temperatures will also be taken before entering the building.
It was important to the staff to provide a safe place for people to go to for a hot meal during the holiday.
"Our hearts are for out guests here at KARM," Bowdle explained. "We don't want a single person who is a guest here at KARM or who needs a place to have a delicious Thanksgiving Day meal to feel lonely. There is a lot of love in this building every day of the year, but especially on Thanksgiving Day."
KARM has continued to serve three square meals a day during the pandemic and knows the food they are able to provide makes a world of difference to those who are hungry with nowhere to go.
“We had a lot of anxiety about continuing to offer services to our homeless and hungry neighbors, but this is the volunteer state and you volunteers have stepped up by donating food and finances, and we are just so very grateful for all of you during this season of Thanksgiving," Bowdle said. "Of course above all we are thankful for God’s provision for helping us meet the need here in East Tennessee with our homeless community.”