Tradition continues as CSB and SJU students gather for annual Thanksgiving meal
Campus & CommunityStudent Features
November 15, 2023
By Frank Rajkowski
There might not be a busier day on the schedule for Saint John’s University executive chef/culinary manager Art Martinez and the rest of the school’s dining staff than the annual Thanksgiving meal.
But there’s also not an event they enjoy more.
“You have that vibe and energy,” Martinez said. “It’s so satisfying for myself and my staff to be able to provide a meal like this to our students before they leave for break. To see them dress up and the smiles on their faces creates a lot of excitement and that translates to us as well.”
This year’s meal was served to Johnnies and Bennies on Wednesday night (Nov. 15) in Guild Hall. It marked the 42nd year for the event, which is traditionally held the week before Thanksgiving break.
“It’s a great way to bring our community together,” SJU junior Adrian Belisle said. “It’s always exciting to see classmates and have that time to spend with one another. At this time of the year, people get caught up in schoolwork, so this is an opportunity to step away from that and enjoy an amazing meal.”
Getting that food to the buffet line is a process that requires a lot of preparation. Turkeys began being pulled last weekend, and the dining staff spent all day Wednesday preparing:
Around 880 pounds of turkey.
Around 690 pounds of mashed potatoes.
Around 350 pounds of bread stuffing.
Around 35 gallons of turkey gravy.
Around 360 pounds of corn.
And about 175 pumpkin pies.
Between staff and volunteers, around 40 people worked to help make the dinner possible.
“It takes a lot of teamwork,” Martinez said. “We couldn’t do it without the volunteers. We have people who help serve and we have volunteers who come in and spend two hours just slicing turkey.
“We also have a great staff. Most of us have been here for a while now and we know what we’re doing. We know what the process is.”
College of Saint Benedict senior Rachel Hissam said traditions like the Thanksgiving meal are part of what makes CSB and SJU such special places.
“One of the big things about this school is the sense of community,” she said. “This is a great part of that community aspect each year. It’s so fun to get together with classmates like this.”
CSB and SJU students helped devour 880 pounds of turkey on Wednesday night at Guild Hall. A similar holiday meal is planned for Dec. 7 at Saint Ben's.
Brian Bruess, president of the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John's University, and his wife, Carol, visit with students during the annual Thanksgiving meal. It was served on Wednesday night (Nov. 15) in Guild Hall.
It took more than 40 staff members and volunteers to produce the annual Thanksgiving meal at Saint John's. Most students will experience the real thing at their homes next week, but it won't be on this scale.