Hundreds of Thanksgiving meals were served to-go Thursday at St. Barnabas of the Valley Episcopal Church in Cortez.
More than 30 turkeys were roasted, deboned and carved for the community meal. Cooks whipped up 50 gallons of dressing and 17 gallons of gravy and mashed 250 pounds of potatoes. Homemade pies were sliced and served in hundreds of individual containers.
Members of the Snyder family were the lead cooks.
“The operation gets more streamlined every year,” said Chris Snyder. “The dishes are favorite family recipes made with quality ingredients.”
A classic is the flavorful dressing, a mixture of oven-roasted bread, pork sausage, apples, cranberries, celery, onions and spices. Another is the sweet potato crisp, a creamy treat with a brown-sugar crusted top layer that serves as a side and a dessert, said cook Mona Snyder.
Organizer Victoria Atkins said the number of volunteers increased this year to 75, up from 50 last year.
Heidi Mitchell volunteered for the first time at the event, and her first duty was filling containers of cranberry sauce.
“I wanted to give back to the community,” she said.
Atkins said 81 meals will be delivered to homebound residents in Cortez, Dolores and the county.
For the first time, volunteers delivered meals to homeless people who might not have the means to get to the church. Paul and Shirley Gaal were driving to locations around Cortez to hand out hot Thanksgiving meals.
The Thanksgiving community meal is a combined effort between Grace’s Kitchen, Hope’s Kitchen, the church and the community, said Pastor Doug Bleyle.
“It is possible thanks to the community donating their time and effort – that’s what makes it happen,” he said. “The meal is served to a diversity of gathering of people, our neighbors from all over, all backgrounds and social groups. Everyone is welcome.”
The to-go format continued this year because of the recent spike in coronavirus cases. Organizers said they will consider a hybrid system in the future to allow limited seating and to-go meals.