Community Thanksgiving Meal brings people together for food and fellowship

Elementary students in Little Falls have been busy decorating placemats to be used at the annual Community Thanksgiving Meal, Thursday. Pictured with their artwork are kindergarten students from Lisa Lano’s classroom at Lincoln Elementary (from left): Isaac Eggerth, Hunter Witucki, Kylie Berendt, Anna Vogt and Abbie Scepurek.

Elementary students in Little Falls have been busy decorating placemats to be used at the annual Community Thanksgiving Meal, Thursday. Pictured with their artwork are kindergarten students from Lisa Lano’s classroom at Lincoln Elementary (from left): Isaac Eggerth, Hunter Witucki, Kylie Berendt, Anna Vogt and Abbie Scepurek.

by Jennie Zeitler, Staff Writer

The annual Community Thanksgiving Meal will be served Thursday at the Little Falls Community High School (LFCHS) from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. and everyone is welcome to the free event.

This is be the 31st year the meal will bring people together to celebrate and give thanks for the many blessings in the community.

“The event is for the whole community, not just for those who are in need. It brings the community together,” said Nate Bjorge, a member of the planning committee. “Each year I hear stories from those who cannot be with family for whatever reason and they appreciate being able to come to the Community Thanksgiving Day Dinner. The event fills a void.”

Bjorge said that every year he sees both old and new faces. A death in the family, bad weather or other circumstance may keep people from traveling to spend time with friends and family. The Community Thanksgiving Meal is there to support everyone.

This year, the meal has a new chef, Beau Bachan, originally of Little Falls and now living in St. Cloud.

Bachan graduated from high school in Little Falls and the culinary arts program at St. Cloud Technical College. He was at Cabin Fever in Little Falls for 10 months before working an eight-year stint as kitchen manager at Short Stop Custom Catering in St. Cloud. He has been in the deli at Coborn’s for more than two years.

“It’s nice to be involved in the community that once supported me when I was little,” he said. “I’ve been working with vendors and managers at Coborn’s to get donations for the meal.”

Although Bachan had originally pursued a career in construction management, an injury changed his course. He finds cooking and catering very rewarding.

“I like the smiles on people’s faces after they eat a meal I prepared,” said Bachan. “You can feel good about your day when you get done.”

“We’re very fortunate that Beau stepped in after Tina (Wheeler) moved to Texas,” Bjorge said. “Healthy Communities Collaborative took a larger role than last year, with more people involved in planning and preparation.”

The tables at the event will feature placemats decorated by local schoolchildren. Many youth groups get involved by gathering at the high school Wednesday night to help set the tables.

Traditional Thanksgiving dishes will be served: turkey, mashed potatoes, green beans, salads and desserts.

“The pies and other desserts are donated by the community. Many people just make one or two extra desserts and drop them off at the school Thanksgiving morning,” said Bjorge. “Faith Lutheran Church has a pie social Thanksgiving Eve and we donate the remaining pies to the community meal.”

Bjorge wants to thank all those who have volunteered; there have been more than enough volunteers already.

“The school district couldn’t be more accommodating. It allows us to use the facilities and cook our meal in the high school kitchen. It has worked out well,” he said.

Donations are being accepted to help offset the cost of the meal. Make checks out to the Little Falls Area Ministerial Association and send them to Faith Lutheran Church, P.O. Box 466, Little Falls, MN, 56345. Or, donations may be dropped off Thanksgiving Day at the LFCHS.

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