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Richmond restaurant and churches provide free Thanksgiving meals

on November 25, 2013

Menbere Aklilu, owner of Salute E Vita Ristorante, knows firsthand what it’s like to need a warm meal and a place to stay. She once spent Christmas at a women’s shelter in Rome when she fled an abusive boyfriend and had nowhere else to go. That’s why she cares so much about providing food for homeless people and helping them to get back on their feet.

For the third straight year, Aklilu will host a free Thanksgiving dinner for homeless people at her Italian restaurant on the Richmond waterfront. And for Salute E Vita Ristorante’s 10th anniversary, Aklilu is also rolling out a special gift to area homeless people: The restaurant will hand out coupons that are redeemable for 10 free carryout meals.

In addition to providing a four-course meal, volunteer doctors from area hospitals will provide flu shots for homeless people. “It’s great, because they are outside all the time, and they can get sick easily,” Aklilu said.

Aklilu is looking to recruit workers from Richmond’s homeless population. The restaurant has five openings for dishwashers and other entry-level positions, and she wants to hire homeless people. “I was homeless. I got a chance. Look at me now.”

Salute E Vita won’t be the only place handing out free Thanksgiving meals to Richmond’s homeless population this year. At least a half-dozen churches and shelters throughout the city will be providing meals to people who need them most. Click on the map above to see some of the places where free Thanksgiving meals will be offered this week.


  1. Bay Area Rescue Mission on November 27, 2013 at 10:28 am

    Thanks for the mention in the article. Correction: we serve the free meal at 200 Macdonald Ave.

  2. MarinaGirl on November 29, 2013 at 5:06 pm

    funny Salute is hiring in this article and wanting the city to bail her out in another, going under in a 3rd and giving 10 free take out meals to the homeless in a 4th. When will Aklilu tell the truth?

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