Chicago students prepare hundreds of thanksgiving meals for seniors


CHICAGO (CBS) – Thanksgiving came a little early for residents on the far South Side.

Students from the Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences are preparing hundreds of dinners for seniors in their neighborhood. CBS 2’s Marybel Gonzalez went there to check out the operation.

The hallways and the gym at the school smelled like dinner as students were putting on the final touches on their meals to celebrate the season of giving thanks with everything homegrown and prepared at the school.

The classrooms at Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences have transformed into a chef’s kitchen.

“We cook turkeys, pumpkin pies, corn bread, sweet potatoes,” said senior student Anika Dooley.

Students at the school were prepping for one of their biggest events of the year.

“Today, we are making dinner for 350 seniors,” Dooley added.

The experience was truly farm-to-table.

“Kids actually start working on this June 1 each year when we get the birds delivered, day-old turkeys,” said Principal William Hook. “The kids raise them all the way to market weight and we take them out and process them.”

Students also grow the veggies on the school grounds for the Thanksgiving dinners that, for the tenth year in a row, will be served to senior citizens living in the area.

“It means a lot to give back because a lot of the seniors won’t be able to have a Thanksgiving dinner with their family,” said Dooley.

“Volunteer work is definitely important, especially for the elderly. They’re often left out, so we want to include them,” said Amaria Raines, another student.

And the details have to be just right.

While some are in the kitchen, others are putting their creative touch on the decorations.

Everyone pitched in to make sure this dinner is a special one.

“The feeling I get is happiness, because not only do I get to create something for people, but I also get to see them enjoy it,” Raines said.

“It’s like a validation we did a good job,” said senior Anaya Mackey.

Students were behind every single detail of the event from preparing the food, to setting the table centerpieces which guests will be able to take home at the end of the dinner.

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