PROSSER -- Prosser's community Thanksgiving turkey with fixings will be the handiwork of Chef Jess Ayala.
Ayala and his wife, Susanne, own the Tuscany restaurant in Prosser and are cooking the traditional holiday meal to be served for free to 150 people.
Susanne Ayala, who manages the rustic bistro that opened a year ago, said the dinner has come together through donations of food and labor from throughout the area.
"We're preparing all the food, but Frontier Trucking provided 100 pounds of turkey, ConAgra donated the mashed potatoes and vegetables, and U.S. Foods is giving the bread rolls and condiments," she said.
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Volunteers at the Prosser Presbyterian Church are making the pies, and others will be servers at Grace Community Church, 520 7th St., where the sit-down feast will be from 2 to 5 p.m.
The Ayalas feel strongly about serving those who are facing difficult times this holiday season.
Susanne Ayala, a former employee at ConAgra before the plant closed last year, can sense the community's needs.
"I know many of these people have worked so hard for so little. It makes you just want to wrap your arms around them," she said.
Jess Ayala, who was born and raised in Prosser, agreed.
"We want to do this. The business has taken care of us. We've been blessed, so we're in a position to do for others," he said.
"This is the time of year everyone gets laid off in the agricultural industry. It is the end of the corn and carrot seasons," Susanne Ayala said. Unemployment benefits will come, but not in time for the holidays. That is why the holiday community dinner is so important, she said.
"My mom, who is a pastor of a church, always wanted to do a soup kitchen but never really had the way to do it. Now that we've opened the restaurant, we have the resources and the relationships," Jess Ayala said.
Thursday's meal, called "Harvest of Thanks," is open to anyone who wants to come, income-challenged or not.
"People need other people at Thanksgiving. They shouldn't be alone," Susanne Ayala said.
Those specially invited are people who don't have the day off and are doing community jobs, including police, fire or medical workers.
The meal will be traditional from beginning to end.
Jess Ayala said he is not doing anything to show off his culinary skills.
"We're just trying to take care of our corner of the world," he said.
Meals also will be delivered to people in Prosser who are unable to come to the church's dining hall. Calls for delivered meals must be made by Wednesday evening to 786-7600.
* John Trumbo: 582-1529; firstname.lastname@example.org