CHERRY POINT, N.C. — President Biden and first lady Jill Biden on Monday dined and mingled with military members and their families ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday.

“The reason we came is the chef’s not bad,” President Biden joked in remarks to hundreds of service members at Cherry Point, N.C., which is home to more than 9,000 military personnel and roughly 8,000 military family members.

Biden, citing his decades in the Senate and eight years as vice president, said he’d observed the work of Marines and sailors for years in places such as Bosnia, Afghanistan and elsewhere.

“The American people have no idea the sacrifices you make,” Biden said, acknowledging military spouses as well.

After speaking, the Bidens helped serve thanksgiving meals to service men and women and their families, chatting with them as they came up to the buffet line for food.

Offering support and resources to military families has been a priority for the first lady, and the president speaks frequently about making sure veterans get the care and attention they need. The cause is personal, as Biden’s late son, Beau Biden, served in Iraq as a member of the Delaware Army National Guard.

The “Friendsgiving dinner” capped a holiday-heavy day of events for the president and first lady. The president earlier Monday pardoned two turkeys, Chocolate and Chip, as part of the annual White House tradition, and the first lady received the White House Christmas tree a few hours later.

The Bidens are scheduled to leave Tuesday for Nantucket, Mass., where they will spend the rest of the week.