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DSU to hand out Thanksgiving meals with drive-thru

Dickinson State University will be offering the community a Thanksgiving meal. Carry-out only and RSVP is required.

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Dickinson State University will be offering a community drive-thru Thanksgiving meal from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m Thursday, Nov. 26. Each meal will be free and requires pre-registration by Monday, Nov. 23. (File Photo)

Though Thanksgiving may look a little different this year, Dickinson State University and other community partners and volunteers will still be offering its big meal to the community in the form of a drive-thru.

The Dickinson Community Drive-Thru Thanksgiving Dinner will be held from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 26, where people who have previously reserved a meal will drive to one of the six socially-distanced serving stations that will be set up on campus and volunteers will hand out meals in to-go boxes. To receive a free Thanksgiving meal, pre-register online by Monday, Nov. 23, by following the link listed on visitdickinson.com/events/2020/dickinson-community-thanksgiving-dinner.

“All things considered, we should be able to do one vehicle every 30 seconds if our timeline is accurate,” DSU Food Service Director Keith James noted.

DSU’s Campus Activities Board, Sodexo Dining Services, Dickinson’s Rotary Club and Blue 42 are coming together to prepare over 900 meals. Currently, 215 meals have already been reserved, James said, adding that this meal is important to the community.

“First and foremost, this has been a partnership between DSU and Sodexo for the last couple years. And with as abnormal as 2020 has been, we needed to do something that brought some sense of normalcy,” James said. “So very upfront, we were committed to doing this program.”

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In previous years, the Dickinson Community Thanksgiving Dinner was conducted in a sit-down style venue but with this year’s pandemic situation, officials decided it would be safer to have a drive-thru format. James said everyone looks forward to doing the traditional sit-down dinner next year, but it’s important to adhere to the current health climate.

Each meal will consist of roasted turkey breast, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, chicken stuffing and green beans. For sides, traditionally the meal would entail a slice of pumpkin pie and cranberry sauce. Rather, this year the meal will feature cranberry juice and pumpkin bread — which make it easier to serve in a drive-thru style.

With a drive-thru style dinner, it’s a tedious process and requires weeks of prep-time, especially cooking for nearly 1,000 people, Sodexo Dining Services General Manager Aaron Zummer said.

“I started receiving deliveries for some products even as early as last week so we’d have enough, get it ready (and) get it prepared,” Zummer remarked. “A lot of the processes take considerable effort. It's a pretty detailed, pretty in-depth and involved process. We’re talking about probably hundreds of man hours by the end of it.”

The City of Dickinson and Stark County have continued to be great partners with DSU and it’s nice to “repay that commitment” to the community, James said.

“We are hoping that our community members again will find some sense of normalcy in a very abnormal year. We realize that the traditional, large-scale Thanksgiving gatherings probably aren’t taking place as much as they have in years past, But we are hoping to take some of that burden off their shoulders by providing them meals that they can take back to their homes and gather around with their families,” James added.

For those interested in volunteering at this event, contact James at keith.w.james@dickinsonstate.edu or call 701-483-2391.

Jackie Jahfetson is a former reporter for The Dickinson Press.
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