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Who’s got turkey in FD?

Some community Thanksgivings cancel; new efforts form to provide meals for those in need

-Messenger file photo
Iowa Central Community College culinary arts students serve a line of guests during the annual Thanksgiving dinner at Fort Dodge Ford Lincoln Toyota in 2017. The Thanksgiving dinner is canceled this year amid high infection rates of COVID-19.

While two traditional meals typically offered to the community during Thanksgiving have been canceled, efforts from new groups to provide food for the holiday are in the works.

A surge of COVID-19 infections in Fort Dodge and Webster County in recent days has put the pause on Thanksgiving meals that typically host hundreds of people.

One of those Thanksgiving meals is typically offered at Fort Dodge Ford Lincoln Toyota.

Matt Johnson, general manager of the dealership, said the meal will be postponed to 2021.

“Unfortunately, we can’t safely host this year,” Johnson said. “We hope to be back in 2021.”

Instead, Johnson said Fort Dodge Ford will redirect the funds typically used to prepare the meal. Those funds will go to support the Meals on Wheels program. Meals on Wheels is a nonprofit that delivers nutritious meals to seniors and others unable to leave their homes.

“We are grateful for all the past volunteers,” Johnson said. “We just think it would be too risky to prepare food and have people gather. It’s not going to work, but we are redirecting our efforts this year to Meals On Wheels. If there’s anyone else who has given in the past, who would like to help with Meals on Wheels, we would welcome that.”

Johnson added, “We want to make sure we are doing our part in helping to slow the spread.”

The Salvation Army, which also typically hosts a meal, has canceled its plans.

“We aren’t going to be able to do it because we can’t keep people socially distanced,” said Maj. Rick Hamelund, of the Salvation Army. “We aren’t going to be able to offer our program this year. Even our volunteers can’t socially distance.”

Hamelund said the Salvation Army’s feeding program will continue throughout the year. The feeding program runs Monday through Friday, from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

The Salvation Army will not be open on Thanksgiving or the day after.

Meanwhile, Charles Clayton, director of Athletics for Education and Success, said meals will be served through AFES this year.

AFES Community Thanksgiving will be held from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. Nov. 25 with delivery and pickup options from the AFES gymnasium.

The menu includes: turkey, a fruit or vegetable, mashed potatoes and gravy, a dessert and dinner rolls.

Clayton said the meals are possible through donations.

“Some people are donating money, some people have dropped off turkeys and things like that,” he said. “Whatever we don’t get donated, AFES will foot the bill. It’s important enough that if we need to take care of it, we’ll take care of it.”

Clayton said the goal is to feed between 500 and 700 people.

Quennel McCaleb, co-founder of Dodger Experience, also has a plan to get food to people for Thanksgiving.

An anonymous business donated to Dodger Experience, which is a made up of middle-school-aged children.

Members of the group will go shopping for meals and deliver them to families in need.

“We are calling this Carts of Hearts,” McCaleb said. “Kids will be giving back to the less fortunate, so they can see what it feels like to give back.”

McCaleb said the group plans to deliver meals to 10 families.

“If more businesses donate, we will up the ante,” McCaleb said. “This is something we are going to try this year and keep it going annually if we can get enough help and donations.”

For more information on Dodger Experience, contact McCaleb at 515-227-6271 or through Facebook.

On Nov. 23, TC Mae’s will offer its version of a community Thanksgiving. That will run from 11 a.m. until the food is gone.

“This is for those who don’t have nowhere to go or a Thanksgiving to attend,” said Dartonya Shivers, manager of the restaurant.

Shivers also said the restaurant would be delivering to different places.

“We will be open for people to dine in, but we have limited capacity,” he said.

The menu includes turkey, ham, mashed potatoes and gravy, macaroni and cheese, potato salad, deviled eggs, cranberry sauce, cornbread, dinner rolls, collard greens and cabbage, coconut cake and sweet potato pie.

Shivers said the community has stepped up to donate turkeys and hams.

“We were footing the bill ourselves, but then there was huge support from the community so now TC Mae’s has taken the responsibility of cooking,” Shivers said.

He said Thanksgiving is an important holiday.

“I come from a large family — unity, togetherness, eating as a family,” Shivers said. “That’s big in our family. For someone not to have that opportunity at Thanksgiving, given the position I’ve been given this year — I’ve been blessed. I am thankful. This is me giving back.”

For more information on the TC Mae’s effort, call 515-573-1101.

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