NEW ULM - Community Friends have been serving a Thanksgiving Day meal to the people of the New Ulm area for more than 25 years.
It all started with some families who were friends and could not get out of town due to a Thanksgiving Day storm.
"Back then, there was only one restaurant open on Thanksgiving Day in New Ulm. It was the Kaiserhoff," said Jim Thomas, who has helped organize the meal since its very beginning.
Staff photo by Steve Muscatello
The basement of St. Mary’s Catholic Church was filled with people enjoying a turkey dinner with all the trimmings at the annual Community Friends Thanksgiving Day meal Thursday in New Ulm. Volunteers cooked and served all the food, which was also donated for the event.
For more photos of this event, go to cu.nujournal.com.
That first year the Community Friends began making a Thanksgiving meal, there were over 150 people (including volunteers) who were served a meal.
Now, the event has grown to serving well over 1,000 people and having 130 people volunteering their help, Thomas said.
The meal is served in the basement of St. Mary's Catholic Church in New Ulm.
130 caring volunteers
850 pounds of turkey (or 34 birds roasted)
350 lb of potatoes
500 lb of squash
7 cases of corn
(or 42 gal. of corn)
90 bags of dressing
85 lb of butter
130 pumpkin pies
"We like to serve the meal family-style. It's more meaningful," said Thomas. "It's served like how you'd serve it in your own home."
He stressed the importance of all of volunteers during this event.
"We couldn't do it without them," said Thomas.
"I think it's important to the volunteers that this (meal) happens," said Thomas. "It just takes an awful lot of people to pull it together."
Volunteers had come from as far away as Minneapolis to help serve the community meal.
It takes a lot of food to feed 1,000 people.
In all, the preparation work called for: 850 pounds of turkey (or 34 birds roasted), 350 pounds of potatoes, 500 pounds of squash, seven cases of corn (or 42 gallons of corn), 90 bags of dressing, 85 pounds of butter and 130 pumpkin pies.
"It's a lot of food," said Thomas. "It's all made from scratch, except the corn."
Thomas said the group started making food for the meal at 9 a.m. on Wednesday morning.
The volunteers began roasting the turkeys at 4:30 a.m. Thursday morning at Turner Hall and the hospital.
"It's a community event, and St. Mary's is gracious enough to let us use the facilities, and it's large enough for us. We can seat about 280 people at a time."
Thomas said he gets people who run into him during summer and ask him if the Community Friends will be doing the meal again for Thanksgiving Day.
"It (the meal) does a service to those people who don't have any place to go," said Thomas. "I've received a lot of letters over the years. I think it's pretty important to the community."
Not only do people come to the church to have a sitdown meal, but people can also call in and request that meals be delivered to their homes.
Long-time volunteer and organizer Ken Seim manages the take-out and delivery area of the Community Friends operation.
Seim reported that this year they had at least about 90-100 take-outs and at least approximately 175 meal deliveries made to homes in the community. Volunteers went out on eight different routes to deliver the meals. They made stops at about 13 to 35 different places along each route.
"Every year it gets a little better. It gets a little more efficient," said Seim. " We've got a lot of volunteers. What's neat is the kids, the participation of the kids. It's so wonderful, and they have a great attitude."