SF's GLIDE Memorial Church hosts outdoor Thanksgiving brunch for those in need amid pandemic

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- With the nation in the grips of a coronavirus surge, GLIDE Memorial Church in San Francisco has raised the tent on a new outdoor Thanksgiving tradition.

The annual meal may look different during the pandemic, but the mission to feed thousands is as fierce as ever.

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GLIDE's George Gundry, the Director of the Daily Free Meal Program, says that first Thanksgiving meal that they serve is a big deal.

"It feels good. It feels good to be taking care of our community. Doing something for our folks that they wouldn't be able to get anywhere else," explains Gundry.

Kimberly Brown wasn't the first in line, but this is the first Thanksgiving that she and her young daughter are homeless. As a mom who is used to cooking a traditional dinner, she says this meal is extra important.

"Having a traditional dinner, prepared for us, and in such a beautiful environment, was really what the spirit of giving is all about. And so, I feel thankful for that," says Brown.

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This is the 51st year of GLIDE's annual Thanksgiving celebration. And this year is different in many ways. Because of the pandemic, food is prepared inside, boxed up and then served outdoors.

In years past, GLIDE would have between 300 to 500 volunteers. But due COVID-19, this year, there are only about 100 volunteers.

One of them is Andrea Zamora, who lives in Oakland. She's here because she wants to make sure that people's basic needs are met, like having food to eat.

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"Eat! That's something crucial. Everyone should be able to eat. Especially during times like this. It's very tough, economically. And with everything going on. The pandemic," says Zamora. "I feel like mutual aid and mutual support is crucial. And this is the least I can do, volunteer a few hours."

Among the crowd of people eating under the tents set up outside of GLIDE Memorial Church are new faces. Organizers says that's another big change, brought on by the pandemic.

"We are seeing faces that we haven't seen before. And they are probably people in San Francisco, or maybe even in other counties, that just can't make ends meet. And they are coming to us to get the help that they need," says Jean Cooper, GLIDE's Chief Strategy and Impact Officer.

More than 2,300 meals will be served, including 200 boxed lunches that will be delivered to homeless encampments around San Francisco.

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