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Charles McGinnett preps meals in the Mesa County Valley School District 51 Career Center’s Fresh Side Cafe in Grand Junction. Photos by Luna Anna Archey

As the recent Thanksgiving Day holiday approached, school district officials in Grand Junction were in a bind.

COVID-19 outbreaks, other respiratory illnesses and staff shortages had all challenged the district since classes began in August. And now, the turkey was in jeopardy.

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