Come one, come all to Pratt's annual Thanksgiving meal free by donation at community center

Jennifer Stultz
Pratt Tribune
Tiffany Ailstock counts her turkeys in the freezer at Pratt Community Center where an annual Thanksgiving Day tradition will continue this year. The public is invited to call and reserve free turkey dinners for November 25 at 620-672-7811 for dine in, carry out or delivery consumption.
It's all there ready and waiting for Thanksgiving Day - the rolls, the sides, the cups, even the hard-to-get containers.
The Pratt Community Center is located on the west side of North Main Street in Pratt.

While Tiffany Ailstock and her volunteer cooking crew at the Pratt Community Center have no idea yet on how many turkey dinners they will need to prepare for Thanksgiving Day crowds on November 25, they have all the ingredients ready to go for this annual tradition in Pratt.

"Usually we have served 400 or more meals, but that was before COVID-19," Ailstock said last week. "Last year we served 744 drive-through meals because everyone stayed home and needed food. This year I have no idea how many to expect, but I will be ready with 176 pounds of turkey in the freezer."

In former years, the community Thanksgiving Day dinner was held at the Pratt Municipal Building, but the switch to the Pratt Community Center will continue this year, as it works better for the cooks and volunteers who serve.

"We will have both big rooms here opened up and set for dine-in," Ailstock said. "People may call in their reservations and let us know if they want to carry-out their dinners, have them delivered to them, or sit down here with friends and family to eat in our dining areas. There are no COVID-19 restrictions at this time."

Ailstock said she ordered her turkeys and other traditional meal ingredients earlier in the year and did not have any trouble securing the needed food items.

"We did have a hard time finding the styrofoam clamshells for carryout," she said. "I had to search through several different companies before I could locate what we needed. I have heard other styrofoam items are harder to find this year than other years for others as well."

While availability was not a problem for food items, Ailstock said she did notice frozen turkeys were more expensive this year by the pound than last.

"I spent $3.13 a pound last year," she said. "This year I had to pay $4.57 a pound. The deboned turkeys definitely went up in price, as did some of the other things."

This year's meal, like those in other years, features roast turkey, green beans, sweet potatoes (with brown sugar and marshmallows), mashed potatoes and gravy, stuffing, rolls, a little dab of cranberry sauce, and a piece of pumpkin pie.

All of the above it free, but donations are appreciated, as they cover the coming year's annual feast.

"We always about break even," Ailstock said. "The Pratt community is always generous in their donations. That is how we can continue to get this meal done every year.

Ailstock said reservations could be made by calling 620-672-7811 from now until Wednesday, November 24 with information about number of meals needed and method of dine or delivery required. Those who would like to volunteer to help cook or serve the meal are also asked to call the above number.

"We will start carry-out distribution at 11:30 a.m. on Thanksgiving Day, with the sit-down meal starting at noon here in the community center," Ailstock said. "All are welcome to join in. It's for everybody."