Open Arms provides Thanksgiving meals at home

Issues Julie Siple · ·

1 Volunteers Debbie Jones (left), Tom Roark (middle), and Steve Fader pack pumpkin pies at Open Arms of Minnesota on Thursday, Nov. 21, 2013. Open Arms will provide 600 meals to people living with life-threatening illnesses this Thanksgiving. 
2 Pumpkin pies cool on a rack at Open Arms of Minnesota on Thursday, Nov. 21, 2013. The Thanksgiving meals provided by Open Arms this year include a free-range turkey from Larry Schulz Organic Farm in Owatonna, a pumpkin pie, and all the fixings. The chefs keep sodium levels low so that all recipients can eat the meal. 
3 Volunteers Kris Nielsen (left) and Lora Grgich chop produce at Open Arms of Minnesota on Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2013. Open Arms was founded in 1986 to serve people with HIV and AIDS. It now also provides meals for people living with Multiple Sclerosis, ALS, and over 60 kinds of cancer. It serves 800 people each week, bringing about 11 meals per person. The meals are free. 
4 "I hate to use this term, but for some people it's a miracle for them, that they're even around to enjoy something like this," said head chef Asei Tendle as he prepared Thanksgiving meals on Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2013. Tendle leads a team of nine staff and many volunteers in the kitchen at Open Arms of Minnesota. The team is careful about where they buy ingredients, what they buy, and how they cook it to assure high nutritional quality. 
5 Hassan Jones, 14, a student worker from Cristo Rey Jesuit High School, loads Thanksgiving meals from Open Arms of Minnesota on Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2013. Open Arms delivers meals so that clients can eat them in their own homes, with their families or friends. 
6 "We try really hard to provide fresh food, and whole food," Open Arms of Minnesota Executive Director Leah Hebert said. "So we cook most everything here ourselves, and we do very little packaged food." Open Arms offers nine different menus, each designed to address a different nutritional need. 
7 "I think food is a really intimate thing. When you're bringing food, feeding people, that really brings people close," said volunteer Kevin Smith, who drives a North Minneapolis route for Open Arms of Minnesota. "Even though I don't prompt them, they tend to tell me what's going on with them. It's really sad stuff." Smith has been volunteering for three years. When people on his route have a birthday, he stops to sing a birthday song. 
8 Moses Renault-Moses (left) thanks volunteer Kevin Smith for delivering a Thanksgiving meal from Open Arms of Minnesota on Thursday, Nov. 21, 2013. Renault-Moses has been living with HIV since the mid-1980s, and is able to eat healthy meals thanks to weekly deliveries from Open Arms.