Oakland community block party puts local spin on Thanksgiving dinner

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Friday, November 24, 2023
Oakland block party puts local spin on Thanksgiving dinner
Oakland is going old school with a community block party this Thanksgiving with over 1,000 meals served.

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- Oaktown is going old school with a community block party this Thanksgiving.

"The meaning of Thanksgiving we celebrate, which is community, coming together and giving back. That is what we celebrate," says Farouq Alawdi, the owner of Two Star Market in Oakland's Diamond neighborhood.

His Two Star Market Thanksgiving event has turned into an annual tradition with over 1,000 meals served.

They served 80 turkeys, 500 pounds of chicken and a variety of other non-traditional Thanksgiving dishes. The menu is as diverse as the city of Oakland, says former Oakland Mayor Jean Quan. She was volunteering.

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"Nobody has thanksgiving dinner like this. It is like eating at my house! You have Mexican rice, Chinese rice. You have some of the best collards greens made by seniors (who live nearby)," says Quan. Middle Eastern and Korean food are also be served up.

Years ago, the event was set up to feed the homeless. Now 21 years later, it's turned into a community event that many have come to rely on.

"The draw of this Thanksgiving community dinner, is when a lot of people don't have family to go to," says Patrice Williams, an Oakland resident.

From raffles to free Oakland t-shirts, organizers say they have done a lot to make everyone feel included.

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"As you guys can see, it is multi-generational. We have families, where women came here pregnant and now their 5, 6-year-old serving the pies at the end (of the line)," says Aleja Rambonga, who is part of event planning.

Inflation means costs are up. Alawdi says he spends close to $15,000 of his own money to host Thanksgiving, with additional $5,000 coming from other small local businesses.

As a Yemeni immigrant, he says Thanksgiving has cross cultural appeal with his Islamic beliefs.

"As Muslims, we celebrate Ramadan, we come to family, we come together. Different foods - we share that food, we break bread. And that's the same way how we feel," explains Alawdi.

And they plan to be back again next year.

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