Rise in food costs doesn’t deter Summit County community from hosting Thanksgiving meals
American Farm Bureau Federation says the average cost of a Thanksgiving meal is up 14%
If your wallet is a little thinner after purchasing all the ingredients for your Thanksgiving meal — or perhaps your meal at a local restaurant — there’s a good reason. According to the 36th annual survey from the American Farm Bureau Federation, the average cost of a Thanksgiving meal is up about 14%, or about $6.41, compared with last year. The bureau reports that this year’s average meal for 10 is $53.31 when last year it was an average of $46.90.
The biggest factor in the price increase is, to no surprise, the turkey. The bureau reports that a 16-pound turkey is about $23.99, which is up 25% compared with last year.
Local turkey prices don’t tell the same story. A November 2020 ad for Safeway boasted that a 10- to 22-pound fresh Butterball turkey was $2.29 per pound. This year, a fresh Butterball turkey is $1.99 per pound — a 13% decrease.
Even the cost of some produce has decreased. Last year’s City Market ad said fresh asparagus and Brussels sprouts cost $2.49 per pound, and this year’s ad reported the same thing costs $1.48 per pound — a more than 40% decrease.
But other holiday items did see a spike in prices. Last year’s City Market ad said a Cook’s smoked shank portion ham cost $0.97 per pound while this year’s ad reported that the same item costs $1.27 per pound — a more than 30% increase.
Though some food costs are on the rise, leaders at local businesses and organizations aren’t letting this deter them from providing quality — and reasonably priced — Thanksgiving meals for the community. In fact, Jay Beckerman, owner of Bistro North in Dillon and Blue River Bistro in Breckenridge, said he’s not planning to raise the price of his Thanksgiving meal offerings.
“The price of the dinner really had not changed over the last seven to eight years,” Beckerman said. “We believe that … it’s a community service, and although there has been the ability to raise prices — and that does show on our regular menu — we don’t believe that Thanksgiving is a time to try to really make the cost changes back. We really want to offer the three-course dinner for families and be approachable and really to be in that spirit.”
Beckerman’s Thanksgiving three-course meal is a $42 special that includes a butternut squash bisque followed by a main course of traditional turkey dinner that has stuffing, sweet potato mash, green bean casserole, a vegetable medley, fresh cranberry sauce and brown gravy. The meal is topped off with pumpkin cheesecake.
Out of all the items he’s had to special order, Beckerman said it’s the turkey that has risen in cost the most, followed by the dairy items such as heavy cream and butter. All of the items in the Thanksgiving meal are made from scratch, which Beckerman said helps with the cost in addition to sourcing many items locally.
Even still, the bulk orders he’s made in the past few weeks have made evident that these special dinners are popular. Case in point: Beckerman said his team is making 45 gallons of the butternut squash bisque, 400 pounds of sweet potato mash, 15 gallons of cranberry sauce and 200 pounds of Brussels sprouts, all of which will help serve 800 in-person guests and another 300 guests for takeout.
Tim Applegate — managing partner of restaurants including Quandary Grille and Sauce on the Maggie, both of which are offering a Thanksgiving meal — said he’s had to raise prices slightly but that it doesn’t truly reflect the impact of today’s inflation.
“We’ve seen an increase in food cost of about 10% this year versus last year,” Applegate said. “… We increased (prices) slightly, but it’s hard to pass all that on.”
For now, Applegate said he plans to chalk it up to the economy’s stabilization after the pandemic and hope that prices get back to normal within the next year or so.
As far as free community meals, the annual Father Dyer United Methodist Church and The Rotary Club of Summit County get-togethers don’t appear to be as directly impacted by increasing prices. Jan Cornwell, who is coordinating Father Dyer’s dinner, said to her knowledge, the price of food items has not come up when planning the event. Rather, she’s more concerned by the number of people who are seeking out a free dinner because she believes it speaks to the county’s food insecurity.
“Four hundred people in Breckenridge need food for Thanksgiving, and then there’s the Rotary dinner that serves another 300 people on the other side of the county,” Cornwell said. “Food insecurity in Summit County is not a joke.”
While prices are rising in virtually every market, there’s still much to be thankful for in Summit County considering establishments are operating with in-person dining this holiday season when they were doing only takeout at this time last year.
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