Thanksgiving turkey and all of the trimmings came a day early for those who receive meals from Meals on Wheels in Grayson County. Volunteers delivered the freshly cooked meal on Wednesday afternoon.
Those living in Sherman and Denison will receive a fresh cooked Thanksgiving meal from the Salvation Army on Thanksgiving Day.
Greg Pittman, executive director of Meals on Wheels of Texoma, said the day early delivery allows their staff to spend the holiday with their families. Many of the people who receive their meals from the service also spend Thanksgiving Day with family.
On Wednesday, the patrons welcomed their normal delivery people along with the traditional turkey dinner.
“It’s wonderful to get a home cooked meal like this,” meal recipient Charlene McGehee said, especially when you’re like me and can’t cook so well.”
Pittman said a group of 60 including 36 staff and 24 volunteers cooked 450 pounds of turkey roasts for the meal. The meal will also include gravy, cornbread dressing made from scratch (no mixes here folks) green bean casserole with french fried onions, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie.
He said the menu is planned using both client feedback and a list of generally accepted comfort food.
“We rotate pie selection annually between pecan and pumpkin, more because of tradition,” Pittman said. “Fortunately, nutritional guidelines are measured by the week, rather than by each meal. This means that with careful attention to the other days of the week, we are able to make Thanksgiving more extravagant than we normally can.”
He said other special meals for the service include Christmas Day, July 4 and New Year’s Day.
He said cooking the Thanksgiving meal from scratch is an opportunity for the staff to show what they can do in the kitchen.
“Green bean casserole is on the menu both because it is relatively quick and easy to prepare and also because it is easily one of the most requested items we get. I mean, who doesn’t love cream and mushroom soup and french fried onions?” he said.
But the dressing is really the star of the show.
“Cornbread dressing is planned as much for tradition sake as it is for us to showcase what we can do! Unlike a boxed just add water stuffing mix, we make the cornbread dressing from scratch. We bake the cornbread, chopped and diced onions and celery, and add just the right amount of poultry seasoning and a tiny dash of sugar. Cornbread dressing is not an area where we cut any corners,” he said.
The pies are made in advance, but no less attention goes into them.
In addition to the meal, the recipients also get to exchange holiday greetings with the friendly folks that they see often from Meals on Wheels. While the food is an important part of the service, Pittman said personal interaction is also key. Meal delivery people can see if a person is in good shape physically and mentally and is often the first person to notice changes in a person who lives alone.
Betty Reynolds has volunteered five days a week for seven years.
“There’s a need in our town,” she said, “and I can’t think of anything more important than helping the people here.”
Reynolds was on her regular route Wednesday.
“It’s very rewarding and humbling because they’re so appreciative,” she said. “You get attached like they’re members of your own family. That’s really how it feels.”
Herald Democrat reporter Drew Smith contributed to this report.