Bristol Health program provides Thanksgiving meals for 180 families in need

Published on Friday, 19 November 2021 14:40


BRISTOL – Bristol Health’s Women, Infants and Children Program Thursday did what it has been doing for 30 years, providing Thanksgiving meals for those who otherwise may not have been able to afford it.

The WIC staff distributed food bags – filled with nonperishable goods such as vegetables, stuffing ingredients, gravy, pie mixes, marshmallows and other items – to about 180 families as they drove up to the program’s Bristol location on Bellevue Avenue. Each food bag also had a recipe book for things like pie crusts, pudding, stuffing, gravy and other Thanksgiving favorites, as well as a Stop & Shop gift card that can be used to purchase a turkey.

“People are always gracious,” said Dr. Dennis Ferguson, who started this Thanksgiving tradition three decades ago.

Ferguson, who retired from radiology in 2013 and now works as a physician advisor for Bristol Hospital, said the medical staff wanted to give back to the community it served, spawning the idea for providing holiday meals to those less fortunate.

“The community required some assistance back then, as it does now,” said Ferguson, who said he plans to retire once again next month. “The people we know who get these meals are deserving. They’ve all been vetted.”

Melissa Dickau, program director at WIC, said the food bags are made possible by the donations of the doctors who are a part of the Bristol Health Medical Group. This year, they donated $9,300.

Ferguson on Thursday said the staff of WIC “does all the work,” operating like a well-oiled machine when they organize and fill all the food bags and distribute each one. He jokingly said the only thing he does when he shows up to visit them is “get in the way.”

Dickau said the reaction from those who receive the donations is most rewarding for the WIC staff.

“A lot of them say they don’t know how they would get the meal together otherwise,” Dickau said of the recipients. “They just express their gratitude.”

“We’ve fed a lot of people over the years,” Ferguson added.

Justin Muszynski can be reached at 860-973-1809 or

Posted in The Bristol Press, Bristol on Friday, 19 November 2021 14:40. Updated: Friday, 19 November 2021 14:42.