“Turkeypalooza” spreads Thanksgiving joy

Campus Kitchen distributed 601 Thanksgiving meals to food-insecure community members


During Turkeypalooza, Campus Kitchen volunteers work to make Thanksgiving meals for folks in need.

Emily Toro, Assistant News Editor

In an effort to mitigate food insecurity in the Winston-Salem area during the holiday season, during the week of Nov. 13, Campus Kitchen prepared 601 meals during their 15th annual Turkeypalooza.

“Turkeypalooza is our biggest event of the semester, and it is a time that the Wake Forest community and the Campus Kitchen come together to make fresh, scratch-made Thanksgiving meals from donations from people in the community and grocery stores,” Campus Kitchen Co-coordinator Sophie Brown said.

Brown continued: “We also got donations from campus gardens, so we work with a lot of different groups to provide the supplies that we then take and make into a massive meal.”

Brown said that the annual event falls on the same week as Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week. Campus Kitchen holds events the same week as Turkeypalooza to help address food insecurity, including one that works to recover food from grocery stores and non-profits that would have otherwise been thrown away.

“Thanksgiving, and just the holiday season in general, is a really tough time for some families, especially families who don’t have access to fresh food,” Brown said. “This is a time when we can work with the community to provide these meals and provide the holiday spirit.”

Over 100 volunteers helped to prepare meals. Over the course of the week, Americorps VISTA Cierra Palmer helped coordinate the shifts of volunteers.

“My role this year was to make sure we had volunteers to help us,” Palmer said. “I created the shifts in GivePulse based on the shifts schedules we already had. I also coordinated with some student groups to set up volunteer shifts for their organizations. Throughout the week, I shuttled volunteers back and forth from our lounge to the new kitchen space.”

Last year, volunteers weren’t allowed to work in the kitchen due to COVID-19. This year, volunteers were able to prepare, cook and deliver meals.

“This year, we were able to have more volunteers in the shifts than in years past,” Palmer said. “Because of the expansion of Campus Kitchen during fall of 2019, we were able to use the old Winston-Salem Christian School kitchen.”

Palmer continued: “[The second kitchen] gave us more space to hold volunteers and up the number of meals that we usually do.”

Palmer added: “Last year, we were only allowed to have Leadership Team members make the meals due to stricter COVID-19 rules. Since things have calmed down, we were able to host more volunteers. We just doubled the number of volunteers that we have in our normal cooking and delivery shifts.”

Palmer also helped support Brown, Morton and Brad Shugoll, the associate director of service and leadership in the Office of Civic & Community Engagement, which manages Campus Kitchen.

“We all worked together to figure out how many meals community partners wanted. From there we made a shift schedule for people to come and volunteer,” Brown said. “We worked on a lot of the logistics. I did all the numbers for produce and the supplies for the cookies and things like that. We were also heavily involved in the fundraising aspect, so we got the crowdfund link up and running.”

Brown added that, sometimes, executive members ended up working until 1 a.m. to ensure operations were running smoothly after volunteers left.

“Turkeypalooza is one of my favorite times of the entire year, it’s just a really good way to get involved in the community,” Brown said. “I met so many new people by being at a shift and showing people the ropes of the kitchen. It’s a time to build a community and a time to do something together. I love that kind of community that it builds.”