Many of America’s warfighters are spending this Thanksgiving away from home, including about 12,000 U.S. Army soldiers at Fort Leonard Wood. To make the day special for the service members, the southern Missouri base is whipping up a variety of items, including turkey, ham, prime rib, shrimp, and a tasty salad bar.

Beverly Leggett, the base’s food program manager, said about 800 caffeinated food service workers are going all out.

“Thanksgiving in the military on Fort Leonard Wood is like the super bowl of food service,” said Leggett. “And it’s going to highlight every talent and it highlights commitment of food service professionals, and the camaraderie that we see displayed across the installation. So, Thanksgiving is traditionally celebrated with your family and friends. And for every service member training here on Fort Leonard Wood, their table is going to look different. The faces will be different, but the warmth felt will remain the same. And so, it is a with a great honor for every slice of turkey, every candied sweet potato and assorted salad and delicious festive dessert, we serve those who serve.”

Leggett hopes the dishes will be special for the soldiers who are away from home for the holiday.

“When you’re at Fort Leonard Wood, you’re normally here for training,” she said. “And so, if you’re training, you’re going to be looking to the right and the left and it’s not going to be mom and dad. It’s not going to be grandma or auntie and uncles. But we still want you to have that warm feeling of home and remembering those Thanksgivings, celebrated traditionally, with the friends that you’re making now.”

She hopes the diversity of dishes will be a taste of home for all those who grab a plate.

“No matter where you’re from within the United States, we hope that you will find your place at our table. So, you may be from the south and we’re going to have some collard greens and baked macaroni and cheese. If you’re from the north or the east, we’re going to have the green bean casserole with the candied yams. So we’re going to have something for everybody,” she said.

Leggett, who has been preparing meals at Fort Leonard Wood for seven years, said the base does not end up with many Thanksgiving meal leftovers.

“We really try to limit those leftovers,” she said. “We really want to make sure that whatever you’re getting on Fort Leonard Wood, fresh is best. And we’re going to progressively cook. We don’t want to waste. We don’t want to overdo it. So, we really want to make sure we’re spot on the money.”

The meal will be served across 10 locations on base for U.S. service members, Department of Defense ID cardholders, retirees, Gold Star families and veterans with access to the installation.

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