Thanksgiving in February Helps Feed the Hungry

Montgomery County residents help feed the poor and homeless by dining out

Turkey and mashed potatoes are not the only menu items for this Thanksgiving.  And that’s because Montgomery County is celebrating the yummy holiday nine months before the rest of the nation.

In an effort to help better the community, several Montgomery County restaurants participate in the Thanksgiving in February event each year. The participating restaurants donate 10 percent to 20 percent of their sales for one day in February to local nonprofit agencies that provide emergency nourishment to hungry residents.

This year, the Thanksgiving even will be held on Tuesday, Feb. 28th.

“It started out as a very grassroots effort to make it very easy and simple for people to understand that hunger is a need in Montgomery County,” said D’Ana Downing, special events and communications coordinator of Interfaith Works of Rockville Md. “And it gave people a simple way to help out in that regard and also raise awareness on behalf of hunger and poverty.

Interfaith Works is a local nonprofit organization and non-sectarian interfaith coalition that works with more than 150 affiliated congregations to help raise awareness and meet the needs of the homeless and hungry in Montgomery County.

For roughly 30 years, Interfaith Works has organized Thanksgiving in February with the number of participating restaurants growing each year.

“Some restaurants actually seek us out before we’re able to give them all the information on how to become a participating restaurant,” Downing said.  “But it’s a combination of us doing some community outreach and also folks reaching back out to us saying they’d like to participate in the Thanksgiving in February.”

One restaurant that has been dedicated to the community event is Mark’s Kitchen in Takoma Park. General manager Hal Shay said that the restaurant does a fundraiser each month, but Thanksgiving in February is “our overall effort to give back to the community which has been so very supportive of us.”

Mark’s Kitchen is a local restaurant that provides customers with both American and Asian cuisine. Owner Mark Choe was an immigrant from Korea who started the restaurant roughly 20 years ago.  With such successful, Choe felt the desire to give back.

“[Choe] started a business and it was pretty successful,” Shay said. “He was feeling such sincere gratitude to the customers and the community and Thanksgiving in February is a way that he gives back to say thank you.”

This year, Mark’s Kitchen will be donating 10 percent of its sales.

Other restaurants that will be participating in the event this year include bd’s Mongolian Grill in Bethesda, Alfio’s La Trattoria in Chevy Chase, GrillMarx Steakhouse in Olney and Bombay Bistro in Rockville.

Whatever the cravings for dinner on Tuesday, indulging in delicious dining serves as an easy way to help better the county.

“The amazing part about it is it’s a really great way to reinforce community, to celebrate community, and also to raise awareness for hunger and poverty in Montgomery County,” Downing said. “It’s really great to see that people are so supportive and are really trying to be part of something bigger.”

For more information on Thanksgiving in February, visit thanksgivinginfebruary.org/