Volunteers produce big Thanksgiving spread for all ... and it’s free

By Kristina Jackson

For Thursday’s lunch, Old Chicago was not serving its typical Italian food. It was time for a traditional Thanksgiving meal.

Volunteers from the Flint Hills Breadbasket and Old Chicago served a community Thanksgiving meal Thursday.

It was a full deal, too, with all the fixings at no cost to anyone – whether they normally could afford it or not.

“When people are at the dinner, nobody knows the difference,” said Maribeth Kieffer, executive director of the Breadbasket. “That’s what I like about it.”

The Breadbasket and Old Chicago each bring around 30 to 40 volunteers to serve and cook meals. The Breadbasket also delivers meals to those who might not be able to attend.

Old Chicago’s general manager, Mike Rice, said the meal requires 30 turkeys, six cases of green beans for a special casserole, and four cases of stuffing.

“And you’ve got to have a little cranberry relish,” Rice said.

The American Institute of Baking also donated 70 pies, from blueberry to peach to apple, in addition to four cases of pumpkin pie that Old Chicago provided.

With a meal of this scale, Kieffer said the partnership between the two organizations has been beneficial.

“We help each other make it happen,” she said.

Rice said that the foundation in which Old Chicago is a member – the Craftworks Foundation – encourages its restaurants to give back to their communities, but Rice, a graduate of Manhattan High and K-State, also has a personal interest in saying thanks to Manhattan.

“It’s a great day, seeing people that need something and being able to give it to them,” Rice said.

Although the Breadbasket provides food all year round, Kieffer said it can be especially heartwarming during the holiday season.

“There are people in Manhattan who are caring and generous who want to help,” Kieffer said.

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