TOGETHER AGAIN: DECC Thanksgiving buffet welcomes Northlanders back in-person

The annual Thanksgiving buffet at the DECC in Duluth was fully in-person for the first time since 2019 Thursday.
Published: Nov. 24, 2022 at 3:51 PM CST
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DULUTH, MN. (Northern News Now) - The annual Thanksgiving buffet at the DECC in Duluth was fully in-person for the first time since 2019 Thursday.

The menu normally features turkey as its main dish, but this year, it had to be swapped out for ham.

The decision was made after high prices for turkey and supply chain issues made it more challenging for the traditional bird to make it to the plate.

According to the buffet organizers, around 3,000 plates were served to Northlanders looking to get a warm meal on the November holiday.

Among those in the Lake Superior Ballroom were Sunny Beck and her family. They noticed the menu at the buffet looked different this year, but their favorite part wasn’t just the food.

“Being here for Thanksgiving and being with a lot of people,” Beck said.

Getting together was a common theme in the ballroom this year. Patrick O’Leary was glad just to see so many people back again.

“I love people,” he said.

“I love seeing people here that come out, gathering here, it’s a good thing,” he continued.

Close to 2,000 pounds of potatoes and ham are served within four hours at the DECC. The meals also include stuffing and even pumpkin cake for dessert.

Before setting up thousands of tables and chairs, volunteers hand-delivered around 1,400 meals across Duluth and the surrounding area Thursday morning.

“Well-oiled machine,” one volunteer said.

Among those volunteering included students from Duluth East High School. The school’s Key Club wanted to lend a helping hand for this first year.

“I’d say the best part has been like talking to the people and meeting the people in the community and everything,” Sophie Galchus, a senior at the school, said.

Her friend Grace Russell said seeing people happy is the best part.

“I would just say like the smiles like when people get to have a good meal is really nice and just like seeing the little kids is really cute,” Russell said.

Decked out in a turkey hat and with a scooper in hand, Heather Salfer made it to the serving line this year.

“It’s my first year here out on the serving line, so it’s kind of exciting,” Salfer said.

She’s volunteered at the buffet before, but coming off of the pandemic, it made this year’s dinner all the more special.

“I’m so grateful to be here and the people that are having meals this morning are so happy to be here and grateful for us, so it’s fabulous,” she said.

Hundreds of volunteers spent their Thanksgiving holiday serving up the classics, with a side of love.

“Everybody’s welcome, no questions, you can come up three or four times if you want, it’s just all of us coming together on a special holiday,” Salfer said.

Any leftover food is donated to local non-profits that help serve people in need.