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File photo by Clay Schuldt A large crowd at the 2017 Friends of the Community of New Ulm Thanksgiving dinner is pictured. Typically, about 1,000 guests receive a Thanksgiving meal on the lower level of St. Mary’s Church. Service begins at 11 a.m. Thursday.

NEW ULM — The Friends of the New Ulm Community Thanksgiving will be held at St. Mary’s Church on Thanksgiving Thursday, inflation or no inflation.

In a typical year, 1,000 guests are served meals at the Thanksgiving meal. Event co-chair Les Schultz said an average of about 250 meals are delivered, 250 take-out and 500 people choose to dine at St. Mary’s Church.

Last year’s Community Thanksgiving saw a drop in guest numbers, but he expects guest numbers to increase this year.

About 200 volunteers are needed to make the dinner possible. Schultz said they started looking for volunteers after Halloween and mostly filled all the spots. There are a few kitchen and dish room volunteers needed. Anyone interested in helping out is encouraged to sign up online at

The meal will include all traditional holiday foods; turkey, cranberries, corn, stuffing, potatoes, squash and pies. However, it is still unclear what the cost of the meal will be.

Due to inflation, groceries are expected to cost more than in previous years, but the final costs are unknown.

Schultz said the cost of turkey has gone up over the years. Last year the price was $1.89 per pound.

This year, Community Friends will purchase 42 turkeys, each weighing 28 pounds. The turkey will be purchased in bulk from Hyvee, but the final cost will not be known until Sunday when the food is collected.

The US government has estimated that food prices will rise 9.5% to 10.5% this year.

There will be between 350 lbs and 400 lbs of squash, but this is donated by the New Ulm Food Shelf Community Garden.

An equal amount of potatoes will be served. A 5-pound bag of Russet potatoes currently averages $3.26, about 45.5% more than a year ago.

AMPI usually sells Community Friends Butter at a 50% discount. Last year the corn was donated by Turner Hall.

Schultz could not say how much food prices will rise this year, but said Community Friends has additional funds. The Thanksgiving meal is offered free, but voluntary donations are accepted. Schultz said there was no recommended donation price.

“We say give what you can”, he said.

Some years Community Friends had lost money on the meal, but other years saw generous donations that covered the expenses. Currently, the organization is financially sound.

Thanksgiving dinner will begin serving at 11 a.m. on Thursday, November 24 in the basement of St. Mary’s Church. Everyone is welcome.

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