RUPERT— A Rupert couple is planning to feed 1,000 people free Thanksgiving Day dinners on Nov. 23 at the Rupert Elks Lodge.
This will be the 16th year Ron and Deb Anderson, owners of Alaska’s Best restaurant have hosted the meal designed to feed the hungry and offer fellowship to others on the day set aside for giving thanks.
“This community has been really good to us,” said Ron Anderson, who has watched the event grow over the years.
Last year, 700 dinners were served in the dining room or delivered to people in Mini-Cassia.
“We will deliver meals and give people rides to the Elks,” Anderson said.
To have a meal delivered or for a ride people must call 208-436-2447 prior to Thursday.
“We are the only ones in Mini-Cassia that we know of having a dinner this year,” Anderson said.
The traditional meal will include roast turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, dinner rolls, dressing, yams, cranberries and for dessert pumpkin cake with whipped cream.
The event was held at the restaurant for the first couple years but soon outgrew the space.
For several years the Elks Lodge has donated its dining room and dozens of Elks members and people from the community donate or come by to help cook the food or deliver meals.
“I really like watching people come out and knowing they enjoyed a meal they might not have had otherwise,” James Smith, member of the Rupert Elks Lodge, said.
Smith will be one of the volunteers to help cook the turkeys on the Elk’s giant rotisserie.
“If they are about 12 pound birds we can get about 24 on there at a time,” Smith said.
The volunteers start cooking the turkeys on Wednesday and each batch takes about three hours to cook.
Anderson said Kat Kountry radio station holds a turkey drive each year and donates about 80 turkeys. They will need about 45 more turkeys to feed the expected crowds. Turkeys can be donated to Alaska’s Best during business hours but after Tuesday they can only accept fresh turkeys because there is not time to thaw them prior to cooking if they are frozen.
Anderson said they borrow a freezer truck to store the birds in before they are cooked.
Minidoka County school cooks will be making about 900 dinner rolls and other businesses also pitch in to help.
“We like to do it and it all comes back to us,” Anderson said. “Karma is a wonderful thing.”