Fresh food and even better atmosphere
*NOTE: This article originally appeared in the Nov. 24, 2014, edition of the Hermiston Herald, and was written by reporter Maegan Murray.
For the first time in the 31 years that Stanfield Elementary School lead cook Tammi Thomas has worked for the district, the annual district Thanksgiving feast, originally scheduled for last Thursday, had to be postponed because of the weather.
Thanks to the very prepared staff at the schools, however, the meal took place on Monday. Students and community members were served large helpings of freshly sliced turkey, mashed potatoes, pumpkin pudding, stuffing and much more.
The effort took more than a week of preparation in advance, not including the work put in the day of, to serve the more than 200 pounds of turkey and nearly 100 pounds of potatoes. Thomas said, Monday, she and her fellow cooks and volunteers awoke at 4 a.m. just to prepare the meal. The effort is worth it, however, when she sees how much the students and community members appreciate the meal, she said.
“We enjoy it,” she said. “It is nice to be able to do it every year.”
Thomas said it wouldn’t be a holiday season in Stanfield without the annual occasion.
Stanfield Superintendent Shelley Liscom said she may be new to the district this year, but she could already tell, even before the event took place, that it was a very important tradition for the district. She said very few districts put together a largely made-from-scratch meal that serves not only the students, but also community members.
“This is a way for us to say thank you for all the community has done for us,” she said. “It is fun to have this many visitors at school on the same day. I had no idea it would be this busy.”
Stanfield School District Business Manager Leeann Remillard said the event welcomes more than 450 people every year. This year, she said, numbers might be down slightly because the lunch was rescheduled, but a steady stream of people were still coming through the elementary school for a freshly prepared meal.
“It’s just a fun event,” she said. “We really enjoy putting this on every year.”
The event is even more enjoyable for those partaking in the meal. Parent Daneen Gerber, who has two children at the elementary school and a toddler, said she, her husband and her three children attend the event every year.
“It is so good,” she said of the meal. “This is the one time where we actually seek out a meal at school. (Our children) love that we eat with them.”
Gerber said the event is a good opportunity for parents to get involved in their children’s education, even if it is just for one meal during the year.
“Parents don’t always show up for things, but for this, they seem to make the time,” she said.
For the students enjoying the meal, many were just as enthusiastic about the quality of the food. Many said their favorite items served were the turkey, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pudding.
“My favorite is the turkey and mashed potatoes,” first-grader Aaron Sanchez said.
First-grader Annie Leggett agreed.
“I also like the pudding and the pumpkin pie,” she added.
Last week, elementary students participated in a number of holiday activities, including some about the history of Thanksgiving, and shared things for which they are thankful.
First-grader Airk Schaaf said he was thankful for God. Sanchez said he was thankful for the delicious meal they were served on Monday.
During the meal, the students displayed paper plates decorated with their thanks, as well as hats made of construction paper to look like Native American head pieces or Pilgrim hats complete with yellow buckles.