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Community Support Truck Hits the Road for Free Thanksgiving Dinner

Genny Ginter continues tradition, expects to serve over 2,000 people this year

It’s that time of the year again – time for the Ginter Family Thanksgiving, now called the Dubuque Community Free Thanksgiving Dinner!

Genny Ginter stopped in today to pick up the Community Support Truck and start preparations for the 57th annual event.

They will be serving 88 25-pound turkeys to more than 2,000 people this year – including making deliveries to sick, shut-in, and elderly people in the community. The tradition was started by Genny’s late mother, Donna Ginter.

“We were at 2,100 last year, so we are shooting for 2,200 people this year,” Genny said. “We start cooking the turkeys on Monday.”

The sit-down dinner will be 12:30 p.m. on Thanksgiving – Thursday, Nov. 22 – at the Joliet Event Center, 781 Locust St. in Dubuque.

Each year, Genny uses the Community Support Truck, a box truck Runde Auto Group lends to nonprofits in the area, to transport tables, food, and more.

She has a formula for keeping the food hot all day: First, she lines the truck’s box with a couple inches of cardboard, then lays a tarp over that. Then she puts in the 35 roasters of turkey and covers them with a level layer of cardboard. Then she puts moving blankets over all of that and ties them up to keep the heat in.

“From the time we take the first turkey out to the last turkey, it’s hot – not warm, but hot,” Genny said. “It’s like an oven in there. You drive down there and it’s like 260 degrees in that truck.”

The dinner requires the help of about 300 community volunteers, some in the hall and some driving.

Want to volunteer? There are two options: Delivering meals or working in the hall.

  • If you want to deliver, there must be two adults per vehicle and you must be committed between the hours of 9 a.m. and 1 p.m.
  • If you want to work in the hall, show up any time after 8:30 a.m. and stay as long as you wish.

Need a meal delivered? Call 563-583-8535. *Please note deliveries are only in the Dubuque area. The cut off areas are Casey’s in Key West, the truck stop in Peosta, and Eichman’s in Sageville.

For more updates, visit their Facebook page.

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