The Seasoned Franciscan - Cooking Joyfully

Feeding the Hungry: Sloppy Joe's for a Crowd

By The Cooking Mom and Vicki Lopez-Kaley on Monday, January 15th 2024

(Makes about 60 sandwiches)
10 pounds ground beef and/or turkey  See Notes for safe ways to thaw ground meat
5 C finely diced onion
2 1/2 C finely diced celery
2 1/2 C finely diced green pepper
5 tsp garlic salt
2 ½  tsp black pepper
7 1/2 C ketchup
1  15 oz can tomato paste
5 T brown sugar
5 T Worcestershire sauce
5 T apple cider vinegar
1 1/4 C water
60 hamburger buns 

In large pan (or two!), brown ground meat with onions, celery, and green pepper.  May be done in batches!
Cook until meat is crumbly and no longer pink.
Season mixture with garlic salt and pepper.
Place ground beef mixture in a slow cooker or large aluminum pan.
Add ketchup, tomato paste, brown sugar, Worcestershire, vinegar and water.
Mix well.
Cover and bake in the oven on low (250 or less) for 4 hours, stirring occasionally.  See stove top option in note below.
If mixture gets a bit dry, add a little water.
Serve on buns.
Makes about 5 dozen (60) sandwiches.

Recipe (adapted from a Super Bowl post by The Cooking Mom) can be adjusted to the size of your crowd.  Photo above is from The Highlands Ranch Foodie.

If your ground meat is frozen in 1# packages, All Recipes offers safe ways to defrost it.  If in the 5# or larger frozen "logs", check the package instructions. 

You can also make this on the stove top in one or more large soup pots. After beef and veggies are cooked, add remaining ingredients and simmer over low heat for about 25 to 30 minutes.  Add to a large slow cooker (Nesco brand is great!) to cook further and keep warm until ready to serve.  Stir often.

Source of Groceries:

If you are nervous about funding this kind of effort, again, fear not!  Check out food pantries in your area for support.  For example, the Hunger Task Force in La Crosse, which provides food for many local food pantries, also supports groups registered with them who feed the hungry in our community.  By checking with them, our group of affiliates discovered that many groceries for our chosen menu were available in the days and weeks before we cooked for the Warming Center.  With some planning, feeding the hungry can be easier than it seems as you learn about support in your community!

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Sister Ruth Berra sponsored a grant for Pillars in Appleton, WI.  Pillars provides shelter, support, and solutions to address the housing needs in their community. Pillars recently revamped their Volunteer Cookbook to provide volunteers with recipes to make dinner for a large number of people. Click here to view the cookbook!  It includes entrees, veggie and fruit side dishes, desserts, and tips:  a great resource if you wish to feed the hungry in your community but are shy about cooking for a crowd!  

Also, take note of the information above about finding groceries from a local food pantry or food pantry distributor.  Part of their mission is to provide donated items for people experiencing food and housing insecurity.

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Beth Piggush Says:
01/15/2024 8:28am
Thanks for sharing this. I am excited to try for our warming center (and family gatherings).

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