The 2014 H-E-B Feast of Sharing fills an exhibit hall in the convention center every year. Photo by Page Graham.
The 2014 H-E-B Feast of Sharing fills an exhibit hall in the convention center. Photo by Page Graham.

By the end of December, H-E-B will have served more than 250,000 free holiday meals to people in Texas and Mexico. The Annual H-E-B Feast of Sharing kicked off its 33-city tour in Dallas on Nov. 3, and will make its way to San Antonio’s 23rd annual feast on Saturday, Dec. 19 from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center. H-E-B organizers, as well as the 2,700 volunteers managed through United Way of San Antonio, expect to serve more than 15,000 people a classic holiday meal with all the fixings: ham, gravy, mashed potatoes, green beans, rolls and apple pie for desert. 

In most cities, H-E-B partners with local charity organizations to reach senior citizens and homebound residents. In San Antonio, that partner is Meals On Wheels of Christian Senior Services. This Wednesday, Dec. 16, volunteers and H-E-B employees will be plating and freezing more than 3,800 turkey dinners, complete with a sweet cream cheese empanada, for a scheduled delivery next Wednesday, Dec. 23.

“Then it’s up to them when they want to prepare dinner and heat them up,” said Lacey Kotzur, an H-E-B spokesperson. H-E-B is also including throw blankets for senior citizens.

Volunteers are still needed for the meal delivery next week, but United Way has closed registration for the dinner on Saturday – H-E-B employees account for most of the volunteers.

H-E-B Public Affairs Specialists Lacey Kotzur and Danny Flores stand with a recipient of one of the Feast of Sharing home-delivered meals. Courtesy photo
H-E-B Public Affairs Specialists Lacey Kotzur (left) and Danny Flores stand with a recipient of one of the Feast of Sharing home-delivered meals during the 2014 holiday season. Photo courtesy of H-E-B.

“We’ll be prepared for more than (15,000) for the dinner,” Kotzur said. “But it’s much more than just a dinner.”

H-E-B is picking up the tab for anyone riding on regular VIA Metropolitan Transit bus route to the dinner, and will also offer free flu shots to people on site.

“It’s free and open to the public,” she said. “It doesn’t matter what your economic status is.”

For many people in San Antonio who are homeless, impoverished, and/or disabled, the H-E-B Feast of Sharing is a main stage event for the holiday season in addition to the Raul Jimenez Thanksgiving Dinner that serves more than 25,000 people.

There will be live music and dancing set up in one section adjacent to the dining hall, but H-E-B’s feast also sets aside space for 25 nonprofits and programs that serve the community in a variety of ways including: Metropolitan Health District, Any Baby Can, Avance, Boystown, Center for Family Relations, Clarity Guidance Center, Ella Austin, Girls Inc, Martinez Street Women’s Center, Playhouse San Antonio, the Witte Museum and more.

“There are all of these services in San Antonio that our guests may not even know of,” Kotzur said.

The Lions Sight Research Foundation’s mobile unit will be parked inside to provide free vision screening, Sprint will provide free phone calls for guests to call friends and loved ones, and The DoSeum will have a craft area set up for kids to write letters to Santa, who will also make an appearance at the dinner.

“These are signature events in our hunger initiative that have turned into so much more,” Kotzur said. H-E-B has given more than 980 million pounds of food, the equivalent of about 3.43 billion meals, since the inception of its Food Bank Assistance Program in 1982.

This year, local volunteers will be serving:

  • 4,250 pounds of glazed ham
  • 340 gallons of gravy
  • 4,250 pounds of mashed potatoes
  • 3,740 pounds of green beans
  • 15,000 rolls
  • 15,000 slices of apple pie

*Top image: The 2014 H-E-B Feast of Sharing fills an exhibit hall in the convention center. Photo by Page Graham.

Related Stories:

Having Thanksgiving Dinner with 25,000 San Antonians

Photo Gallery: Volunteers Unite for Annual Thanksgiving Dinner

Your Guide to the Holidays in San Antonio

Fasting for a Cause this Holiday Season

Iris Dimmick

Senior Reporter Iris Dimmick covers public policy pertaining to social issues, ranging from affordable housing and economic disparity to policing reform and workforce development. Contact her at iris@sareport.org