A Behind the Scenes Look at Servo Thanksgiving

By Sydney Dyer, Staff Writer

While it is commonly known that Servo Thanksgiving is a long-held tradition at Gettysburg College, the amount of work and planning by the Servo staff that goes on behind the scenes is often unknown to students. Dining Center Supervisor Joseph Wheeler shed light on this planning. 

According to Wheeler, the food preparation is planned months in advance to accommodate the 1,600 students, staff and volunteers that are served in just over two hours, meaning that 14 people are served per minute. These numbers stay the same almost every year, with small variations, but the consistency of attendance allows for detailed planning.

First of all, 2,400 pounds of turkey is ordered each year, which equates to 1.5 pounds of turkey per the 1,600 people served.With the average whole turkey being 20 pounds, this equates to approximately 120 turkeys. The turkeys are ordered fresh, and in order to get this amount of fresh turkeys on time they are ordered in the middle of August, four months before the event. 

In addition, Servo makes 400 pounds of mashed potatoes, 340 pounds of stuffing and 2,400 dinner rolls. For dessert, they prepare 1440 slices of regular pumpkin pie (which equals 120 whole pies) and 76 more pumpkin pies that are gluten-free or vegan variants. 

To plan accordingly, every kind of food and drink served is measured in pounds or gallons. Combining all of them, there ends up being 7,276 pounds of food—the equivalent of 3.6 tons. This equates to about 4.5 pounds of food and drink per person.

The Servo staff spends the weeks and days leading up to the event preparing for Servo Thanksgiving, making sure they have the utensils and cooking supplies, such as pots and pans, well in advance. 

Mashed potatoes and stuffing are removed from the menus a week or so before the event, and one of the walk-in coolers is arranged to hold all of the turkeys. The turkeys are cleaned the Sunday before the event and stored until Tuesday when they are all cooked. Five chefs start cooking turkeys at 9 a.m. and place them in warmers until the event starts. They use seven different ovens that can fit multiple birds and cook them until 5 p.m. the day of to finish all the turkeys. Along with cooking all of these turkeys, foods like mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy, corn and candied yams are made the day of the event.

In addition to all of the food preparation, the dinner staff is scheduled to come in at 2 p.m. instead of 4:45 p.m. to set up the 12-person tables and chairs. An extra ten tables and 75 chairs are brought to Servo to accommodate the event, along with additional trash cans. 

The men’s lacrosse team volunteers to take down these tables and chairs at the end of the night and restore the building to its original set up. Throughout the day, there are a total of 65 Servo staff working on the event, from cooking to serving to dishwashing, and 100 faculty and staff volunteer to help serve.

The event is planned meticulously to fulfill a time-honored tradition every year. This work, completed by the Dining Services staff each year, allows Gettysburg College students, faculty and staff alike to celebrate Thanksgiving in a home away from home.

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Author: Gettysburgian Staff

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