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Thanksgiving dinner will be served at state institutions throughout Missouri.

November 21, 2001
By: Steve Ahern
State Capital Bureau

JEFFERSON CITY - While many Missourians will be home or visiting loved ones for Thanksgiving dinner, the aromas of holiday cooking will be wafting through the wards of the state institutions as well. While not at home or visiting loved ones, mental health patients, inmates, and veterans will have something for which to give thanks.

The Fulton State Mental Hospital will be serving a full Thanksgiving spread to over 500 in-patient clients in the facility.

"We will be serving our clients turkey, dressing, a string bean casserole, mash potatoes, cranberry gelatin, and pumpkin pie," Doris Klousterman, an administrator with the hospital said. "It's making me hungry just talking about it."

Thanksgiving and fall decorations line the hallways of the units, and patients are presented with cards to help commemorate the holiday.

"There will be plenty of eating tommmorrow, Klousterman said.

Ivan Lewis, a detox aide at the Phoenix Substance Abuse center in Columbia, said that the holiday helps to raise the clients' morale and gives them something for which to be thankful.

"The guys will have a Thanksgiving feast with turkey, ham, and other traditional fare," Lewis said. "There will be some group meetings on gratitude after the meal and the guys will most likely have time to watch the football games."

Stephen Gaither, public affairs officer of the Truman Memorial VA Hospital in Columbia, said that the spirit of the holiday was captured in a fun day on Tuesday when a woman, dressed up as a turkey circled the wards to offer holiday greetings and spread some cheer. Other volunteers distributed coupon booklets to the veterans.

He said that the veterans will be provided with the traditional thanksgiving feast including turkey, dressing, potatoes and, unless the diet precludes it, a portion of pecan pie. He also indicated that arrangements have been for some of the family members of the veterans to celebrate the holiday along with them.

David Miller, superintendent of the Boonville Correctional center, described the day as a break from the regular routine of the prison.

"There's a large meal with real turkey (not turkey roll) and all the fixins you'd get at home," Miller said. "There are recreation programs like bingo (without money of course), checker tournaments, movies and football."

He said that they will do what most people do at home on Thanksgiving: eat,watch television and enjoy the people around them.

"Isn't that what you do," he asked.

Tim Kniest, the Corrections Department's chief spokesman, said that a traditional Thanksgiving meal of turkey, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, corn and pumpkin pie will be served to all 28,400 inmates in the 21 prisons throughout the state.

"It is part of our policy to recognize the holiday with a Thanksgiving meal. And Thursday through Sunday are visitation days so the inmates can visit with friends and family as well."