Volunteers fill kitchen as diner form line

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 23, 2007

NATCHEZ — Decked out in aprons and white latex gloves, a dozen or so volunteers at the Stewpot made an assembly line and started cranking out plate after plate of Thanksgiving meals for the area’s needy Thursday.

While some of the volunteers are seasoned professionals others are first timers, but they all fall under the direction of Stewpot employee Johnnie Davis.

Standing over an enormous pot of gravy she made the fast-paced meal assembly look effortless.

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“We started getting Thanksgiving meals ready on Wednesday,” she said.

Davis said the Stewpot would be preparing enough food to feed up to 325 people.

“For some of these people this is the only meal they get today,” she said.

And to feed all of those hungry mouths Davis prepared 17 turkeys, multiple pans of corn bread and countless cans of vegetables.

And in all the commotion Davis still had time to share some of her cooking secrets.

“I don’t measure anything,” she said. “I just look to see if it’s right.”

And Davis has had lots of time to hone that skill.

She has been the only full-time cook at the Stewpot for the last 15 years.

And the seasoned volunteers know just how valuable she really is.

“Without her this could not happen,” one female volunteer who wanted to remain anonymous said. “She really holds this whole thing together. “

And president of the board of directors for the Stewpot, Louis Gunning, agreed.

“She gives selflessly,” he said.

As the volunteers cranked up their mechanized feast production Styrofoam boxes of hot Thanksgiving Day meals began to slowly multiply on a rickety table.

The magical multiplication kept on until the table was nearly covered in boxes.

The food was boxed and ready not a moment too soon because a hungry group of patrons stood at the front door.