Lots of prep for Thanksgiving

Feeding the hungry in Bend on Thanksgiving is no small undertaking

Ben Botkin / The Bulletin /

Published Nov 22, 2012 at 04:00AM

Before the first bite of Thanksgiving dinner is eaten today, there is work aplenty for the community organizations that will feed the hungry in Central Oregon.

At the Family Kitchen in Bend, that means preparing for upward of 500 people. On Tuesday and Wednesday, volunteers at the kitchen were busy cooking turkeys, peeling potatoes and baking yams and hams.

“We're just winging it,” said Cindy Tidball, program coordinator of the kitchen, adding that the preparations were going as planned.

The supplies for the feast at the Family Kitchen are plentiful: 200 pounds of potatoes, about 40 turkeys, 20 hams and 100 pounds of yams.

The Family Kitchen, at 231 N.W. Idaho Ave. in Bend, will have its Thanksgiving dinner from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. today.

Volunteers already serve regular meals at the Family Kitchen during the week, which makes Thanksgiving like any other meal — albeit with more food and work involved.

It also means planning. After hot turkeys exited ovens, volunteers pulled meat from the bones. Separated as white and dark meat, the turkey went into large plastic tubs for refrigeration and will be heated on the holiday.

About a dozen volunteers labored on Tuesday and Wednesday. That size workforce brings the benefit of a homespun meal: enough manpower to peel potatoes and make mashed potatoes from scratch instead of a premade potato mix from a box.

“As long as you have a couple of people tell you what to do, it's pretty simple,” said Jeff Holmes, of Bend, one of the volunteers.

While Thanksgiving is at the forefront this week, it doesn't remove the need for the kitchen to continue serving meals on other days — before and after the holiday.

That means leftovers — if there are any — will go to good use.

“We'll probably be making turkey soup after this gets done,” said Chuck de Sully, of Bend, another volunteer.

At the Bethlehem Inn, a homeless shelter in Bend, the Thanksgiving plans unfold in a different setting. With no commercial kitchen, the shelter relies on a network of volunteers to cook meals off-site and bring them in for the 75 residents.

“We've got an incredible collection of volunteers,” said Chris Clouart, managing director of the shelter.

In the past week, Clouart said, he's gotten calls from people seeking to volunteer. He said he appreciates the interest, but noted that the planning for the holiday starts more than a month in advance.

“It's really quite an interesting logistical effort,” he said.

The work is divided among 10 volunteers who prepare the food.

While the shelter is all set for Thanksgiving, Clouart stressed that needs will continue after the holiday.

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