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Narragansett Town Manager James Tierney, left, is joined by Tyler Miller, Hayley Williams, Ethan Farrell, Adam Leclair and Madison Donegan at Sunset Farm in Narragansett on Saturday morning. They are among a group of volunteers who prepare and deliver Thanksgiving meals to local families in need.

NARRAGANSETT, R.I. — During the fall of 2020, when many families were hurting — either financially, logistically, or emotionally due to the COVID-19 pandemic — Sunset Farm’s Ethan Farrell was springing into action. He had a desire to serve the community somehow, and, having seen many first responders in the area working harder than ever, decided to give something to them to share the community’s gratitude.

Farrell, along with a few loved ones, employees, and friends, decided, at the very uncertain height of the pandemic, to spread some Thanksgiving goodwill by providing first responders, medical personnel, and local families in need with fresh-cooked, hot Thanksgiving dinners, delivered right to their doors.

Narragansett’s Sunset Farm is headed into its third Thanksgiving season and has, once again, offered dinners to first responders and those in need in the community, which will be prepared and delivered on Thanksgiving. The Thanksgiving meal initiative takes place alongside its retail operation, during a busy pie- and pastry-making season. Farrell says that during this active time, they usually bake and sell between 150-250 pies, mostly through preorders. Ethan shared that the farm always has a few more available in the retail store for anyone who arrives needing a pie.

The farm has, since 2020, provided around 50 Thanksgiving dinners annually, and Farrell explained that he forecasted similar numbers this year.

“However many people need a meal, we’ll definitely give a meal,” Farrell shared. “We never turn anybody away in that sense.”

The folks at Sunset, once the number of meals is forecasted, go out and shop for ingredients. Farrell has welcomed donations of both cash to purchase ingredients and of turkeys, which are roasted in-house. He has also begun receiving donations of squash, potatoes, and cranberry sauce from Belmont Market.

He noted a bit of concern about rising costs, due to recent hikes in grocery prices, but explained that no matter what, all those requesting meals will receive them. Farrell said that last year, he roasted and distributed eight large turkeys, along with stuffing, squash, potatoes, gravy, and cranberry sauce.

Delivery is mainly concentrated in the Narragansett and Wakefield areas, and is carried out by volunteers.

Narragansett Town Manager James Tierney, upon hearing about the Farrells’ initial plan to deliver to first responders, immediately raised his hand to help out.

“They do all the cooking, and they give me a list of addresses and names. I go on and deliver for them,” Tierney said. “I’ve delivered to police and fire and I’ve delivered to residents and homebound people.”

Tierney said that though there was not much discussion between him and meal recipients while dropping off meals at the beginning of the pandemic, people are very thankful, and they’ve become more vocal about their gratitude as time has passed.

The local community has been so thankful for Sunset Farm’s initiatives, in fact, that the Southern Rhode Island Chamber of Commerce presented them an award in May of 2022 called ‘Spreadin’ the Love.’ The award recognizes for-profit businesses that give back to the community as selected by fellow Chamber members.

This year, Caf Bar, located on Main Street in Wakefield, and Sunset Farm shared this honor.

Farrell explained that as long as the need remains, and to continue to show respect for police and fire and other first responders who consistently work hard (and over holidays) for the local community, he will continue to provide meals. And because of his insistence on the meals being fresh, he and his team of around eight will continue to cook and assemble meals immediately before delivery so they arrive ready to eat.

“I think it’s a wonderful program,” said Town Manager Tierney. “It instills some community spirit and helps people to appreciate the community that we live in.”

“We really do appreciate the initiative they took on this and folks love it.”

Tierney says he intends to continue delivering Thanksgiving meals as long as Sunset Farm continues to provide them.

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