Raul Jimenez Thanksgiving Dinner will not be in person this year

Annual event will focus on delivering meals to those in need

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, meals will still be prepared, but volunteers will deliver meals to participants.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, meals will still be prepared, but volunteers will deliver meals to participants.

SAN ANTONIO – Every year, approximately 25,000 people fill the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center to celebrate Thanksgiving at the Raul Jimenez Thanksgiving Dinner.

COVID-19 is preventing that from happening this year, so the family behind the popular event is being forced to pivot.

“This year, our goal is to feed up to 10,000 seniors and homeless through a homebound delivery system,” said Jessica Jimenez, Raul Jimenez’s granddaughter. “One of the things that some people might not know about the Thanksgiving dinner is that we’ve actually had a homebound delivery system in our organization for more than 10 years. So, we last year fed close to 3,000 seniors in underprivileged families through homebound delivery where the meals were picked up and then delivered to their home. We plan on leveraging our experience with that delivery method and just growing it to close to hopefully 10,000.”

The city of San Antonio and several sponsors will assist the nonprofit group this year. There will also be a need for volunteers.

“Volunteers will be important this year. It will just look very different,” Jimenez said. “Given the current restrictions, we’re going to have to cut that volunteerism back to a number that’s measurable, and something that’s sustainable for the cause.”

The logistics of how they will be able to do this is still a work in progress.

“The core volunteer need that we will have will be for homebound delivery drivers to where they’ll pick up the meals,” Jimenez said. “They’ll identify the map that we’ve provided and they’ll go to the house to deliver the meals.”

The pandemic has forced many organizations to cancel or alter their plans throughout the year. While the Jimenez Dinner is doing the same, the focus remains unchanged.

“I think we remain focused on our core mission and our founding principles, which was to feed senior citizens and underprivileged families on Thanksgiving Day, and that’s what we’re committed to do,” Jimenez said. “There is still such an immense amount of need. We’ve already started receiving phone calls for people that are interested in receiving Thanksgiving meals. I think that the need is definitely there and we’re committed to ensuring that we can feed San Antonians in their time of need.”

The sign up process for volunteers will open up in October. If people can’t volunteer, you can here to donate.

Related Stories:

Julián Castro and family serve at 40th Annual Raul Jiménez Thanksgiving Dinner

Raul Jimenez’s daughter leads organizing efforts of San Antonio Thanksgiving tradition


About the Author:

Sean Talbot is the Assignments Manager at KSAT and has served in this role since 2015. He joined KSAT in 2001. He graduated from Texas State with a degree in Mass Communication with a minor in Political Science. When he’s not getting our news crews out the door, he’s at home with his wife Lomisa and their two daughters Grace and Sydney.