Thorsby students celebrate Thanksgiving over school-wide meal
When students and faculty at Thorsby High School learned they would not be having their traditional Thanksgiving lunch this year, they rallied together to continue the tradition.
“One of the main reasons we weren’t going to have the Thanksgiving lunch this year was because the menus have to be analyzed in advance for their calorie count,” Thorsby lunchroom manager Debbie Dutton said. “It was kind of a rushed thing this year and we just didn’t have the time to have the Thanksgiving meal analyzed so we weren’t going to have it.”
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) requires that school lunches now have a specific calorie amount based on the age of the child being served to ensure proper proportions.
Students and faculty learned the annual Thanksgiving meal consisting of turkey, cornbread dressing, green beans, sweet potatoes, rolls and cranberry sauce would not be on the menu this year and worked to make sure the meal would still be served.
Thorsby High School teacher Jennifer Curry told members of the student council who went to Dutton and asked if it would be possible to continue the Thanksgiving meal.
“While we all agreed that Thanksgiving was so much more than just the meal, we hated losing that tradition without a fight,” Curry said. “The student council went to the lunchroom staff and asked if there was some way that they could help bring the meal back. We were told we could have the meal if the student council helped decorate, serve the food and clean up afterward.”
Dutton said when she was approached by students and teachers to carry on the tradition of the meal she contacted Child Nutrition Supervisor Carol Easterling who left it up to the lunchroom managers throughout the county if they wanted to serve the meal.
“Putting on the Thanksgiving meal is a lot of work,” Dutton said. “It takes a good week to get everything going. It is a task but it is a task we do with love because we want to provide for our children as best as we can.”
Dutton said when she approached the staff in the lunchroom about cooking the meal that would require at least 10 hours of extra work, they all willingly agreed.
“We know that for a lot of our children this is the only Thanksgiving meal they will receive,” Dutton said. “Knowing that makes us not mind the extra work.”
Dutton said the USDA sent the schools certain seasonal foods for side items as well as turkeys.
More than 16 members of the student council volunteered to serve the meal on Nov. 22.
“The dinner became a school-wide event,” Curry said. “Elementary students made placemats and decorations for their tables and the student council gave out coloring sheet placemats to the upperclassmen. Several students used their woodworking skills to make our table decorations while other students helped paint them.”
Curry said the morning of the meal, members of the student council donned aprons, hairnets and gloves and served more than 800 students.
“After everyone had eaten, they cleaned the tables and mopped the floors,” Curry said. “Many of the students said they had a greater appreciation for the job the lunchroom staff does every day and everyone seemed to enjoy and appreciate the Thanksgiving celebration just a little more this year.”
Dutton said seeing the students volunteer to help with participation from all of the students and faculty at the school meant a lot.
“Seeing all of the students participate in the Thanksgiving dinner in some way whether it was helping serve or making decorations for the tables was just really great,” Dutton said. “It gave us all something to be thankful for.”