LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Thanksgiving came one day early for hundreds of people in need on downtown LA’s Skid Row.

The Los Angeles Mission Wednesday celebrated its 76th year of providing approximately 4,000 meals for the city’s homeless.

“We are the homeless capitol of the United States . . . and we’re hoping to change that,” Mission President Herb Smith said.

This year’s event featured food preparation by “Top Chef” winner and Ink owner Michael Voltaggio, who cooked up 3,000 pounds of smoked turkey, 700 pounds of corn and maple stuffing, 80 gallons of gravy, and 800 pounds of vegetables in addition to twice-baked potatoes, spaghetti squash casserole and pumpkin pie.

For the sixth straight year, Wells Fargo paid for the cost of the food.

“Every year, we see an increase in population that come, because some of these people don’t have the opportunity to experience a traditional Thanksgiving meal,” volunteer Jorge Espinoza said.

Fifth Street was closed in front of the mission, which served meals between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. It was expected to reopen to traffic at 6 p.m., event officials said.

In addition to a free meal, Los Angeles Christian Health Centers provided foot care and exams to the homeless.

Each person who walked through the mission also received a tarp, tent and a blanket.


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