LINCOLN, Maine – It’s close to Thanksgiving, and Charles Libby figured that poll workers at the Mattanawcook Academy polling site on Tuesday wouldn’t mind a meal that got them in the mood for the holiday.
So he and Caitlyn Gustafson whipped up a dinner of roasted chicken, mashed potatoes, homestyle gravy, vegetables and rolls. The dinner, and a lunch of Dagwood-style ham and turkey sandwiches and Caesar salad, came to the dozen volunteers courtesy of the Northern Penobscot Tech-Region III culinary arts program, whose five students prepared the meals.
Culinary instructor Herman Ammerman said the program, which does about a dozen community meals a year, was happy to honor a request from the town office to give the volunteers something good to eat.
“I thought it was great,” Ammerman said Tuesday. “We love doing community things.”
Libby, a Lee Academy senior, and Gustafson, a senior at Mattanawcook Academy, seemed to handle the big dinner all by themselves. The two culinary arts students at Northern Penobscot Tech scarcely spoke as they shot through the meal’s preparation.
“It makes me feel good that other people are recognizing our work and that they enjoy what we do. They see the hard work that we put into what we do,” Gustafson said.
“I don’t think we considered other meals because this was our first idea,” Libby said.
Town Clerk Shelly Crosby said the food was excellent and thanked the students for making it. Most of the poll volunteers and paid workers labor 12 hours at the polls, and the work is laborious.
Many ballots have to be counted by hand, and the turnout was significant. As of 2 p.m., more than a third — or about 1,200 — of the town’s registered voters had cast ballots, and Crosby said she expected about 75 percent to vote before the polls closed.
Ammerman thought he would, as part of the day’s events, take his program’s students to the polling place to vote if they hadn’t yet voted, but none was old enough to vote in this election, he said.
Students and staff welcome the opportunity to help the community, Ammerman said. Any organization seeking assistance from the Region III culinary arts program can call 207-794-3004 or email him at Hermana@msln.net.