Thanksgiving banquet expresses mission


Thousands of guests fill DeVos Place for Mel Trotter’s annual Thanksgiving banquet. Courtesy Corriveau Photography

Thousands of Grand Rapids’ neediest souls are expected to sit down to a warm Thanksgiving feast.

To celebrate the holiday, Mel Trotter Ministries is hosting its 17th annual Thanksgiving banquet at 11 a.m., at DeVos Place in downtown Grand Rapids.

More than 2,000 guests are expected, and approximately 700 volunteers are taking part in the event.

The Rapid has also agreed to participate by providing bus transportation for people who need it.

The event free and open to the public and a “beautiful depiction of service," said Cindy Longyne, Mel Trotter communications manager.

“This is the one event that tries to encapsulate everything that we are as a mission,” Longyne said. “The guests will vary from everything to homeless in the area to just families who aren’t able to provide a Thanksgiving meal.”

Moveable feast

Mel Trotter collected a considerable amount of food for the event, Longyne said.

“It’s over 500 pies, 3,500 rolls, 420 pounds of vegetables, 50 gallons of gravy, 950 pounds of sweet potatoes, 1,260 pounds of mashed potatoes and then 1,500 pounds of turkey,” Longyne said.

“The food is donated through our brown bag food drive, and some of it is purchased — just to make sure we have enough to maintain a well-balanced meal.”


Mel Trotter’s banquet has New Testament roots.

In Matthew 22, Jesus tells a parable about a great wedding banquet attended by beggars, travelers and the needy. The Kingdom of Heaven should look like this, he said.

This Thanksgiving day, Mel Trotter Ministries is planning to make Jesus’ ancient story a modern reality, Longyne said.

“One of the things we remind ourselves of at Mel Trotter is, ‘I was hungry, you gave me food. I was naked, you clothed me,’” she said, quoting Jesus. “This is another way for us to invite those who need to come.”

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