October 28, 2020

28 Mississippi homeschoolers cooking free Thanksgiving feast for anyone who wants to attend

For the sixth year in row, the Torrence Family Schoolhouse in Poplarville is preparing to serve Thanksgiving dinner to anyone and everyone who wants to attend.

The homeschoolers perform community outreach like the Thanksgiving dinner through their 4-H Community Club.

The Thanksgiving spread will include turkey and ham, along with gumbo, green beans, creamed spinach, sweet potato pie, macaroni and cheese and desserts.

The 28 kids in the schoolhouse fundraise to purchase the ingredients, cook the food and serve the meals, said Kim Torrence, director of the schoolhouse and the community club. The group of homeschoolers begins preparing for the meal two weeks in advance, said Torrence.

On Tuesday, the kids peeled potatoes and cooked a stock for creamy potato soup. The kids have already used 45 pounds of shrimp and 90 pounds of chicken to prepare 16 gallons of gumbo. Over the weekend, they will begin smoking meat and making dressing.

At last year’s Thanksgiving meal, the group served 380 people. This year they hope to feed 400 people. Teachers at local schools can sign up to pick up meals, and typically 40 teachers sign up for a meal at each Poplarville School District campus, Torrence said.

“It’s a great opportunity for people who have and don’t have to come together. We want everyone to have Thanksgiving,” Torrence said.

The meal is an opportunity for connection within the community and gives the children a chance to serve, Torrence said.

Olive Baptist Church in Lumberton sends tables and chairs and Poplarville Grocery lends the schoolhouse freezer space when they fill up their six deep freezers.

The sixth annual free dinner will be Nov. 21 at the storm shelter on Highway 26. Senior citizens who cannot leave home to attend the meal can call 601-569-0991 by Nov. 18 to request a meal be delivered.