A guest at last year's Thanksgiving feast.
A guest at last year's Thanksgiving feast.
Courtesy of Kevin Bodniza

Miamian Hosting Free Plant-Based Thanksgiving in Overtown

Miamians in need of nourishment have somewhere special to turn this Thanksgiving: Overtown, for a free vegan food share.

Local activist Kevin Bodniza is hosting Happy Bellies to provide healthy, plant-based eats to the hungry and homeless. Bodniza hosted his first share last year on Thanksgiving at the Government Center, where he handed out food to more than 200 people, and has held the events intermittently since then.

"I am inspired to host this event because it is necessary," Bodniza tells New Times. "Overtown is the poorest/lowest-income zip code in the entire state of Florida. And it still remains a food desert, with the only food sources being corner stores. We are here to nourish. When I have organized food shares in the past, so many people believed in it that it all came together with grace. It's a big community effort."

The share will take place today, November 23, from 9:30 to 11 a.m. at 1301 NW First Pl.

So why vegan food? For Bodniza, it's more than about simply filling people's stomachs; it's about giving them healthy foods that promote wellness and vitality. "We are what we eat, and I have experienced so much positive change in many aspects of my own life just through changing my ways of eating," he says. "So I feel excited to share. I believe in the power of fruits and veggies. We aim to nourish those who are hungry with healthy plant-based food.

Overall, Bodniza wants to spread awareness about homelessness and poverty. "I want the volunteers to experience the reality of poverty in some parts of Miami and the contrast with their everyday lives. And for those who we are helping, I hope to enrich them through providing delicious, real food and good company. I truly believe we are what eat, so we are here to feed them something good and inspire better eating habits."

Bodniza is hoping to host another food share for Christmas. The community always rallies around the events, so there will be many more in the future, he says. "People can help in many ways. Social media is our greatest tool; we encourage people to follow @happybelliesmiami on Instagram to stay updated and to share all our info on our upcoming events. We always accept monetary, food, and clothes donations. We encourage anyone and everyone of all ages to come to our events the day of, ready to serve and have an awesome time."

Thanksgiving Vegan Food Share. 9:30 to 11 a.m. Thursday, November 23, at 1301 NW First Pl., Miami. To donate to Happy Bellies, visit its GoFundMe page.

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