Abundance for All: Thanksgiving Help for Low-Income People

According to reports, the first year of the global pandemic saw 26 million people in the US without adequate food to eat. What’s more, 1 in 6 households with children struggled to put food on the table. Battling economic difficulties and trying to muster up cheap meals is hard at any time of the year.

However, it can be even tougher come Thanksgiving, a traditional holiday that centers around food. Fortunately, there are a number of organizations that offer Thanksgiving help for low-income households. These include the Salvation Army, Meals on Wheels, various faith organizations, and local food banks. 

Are you worried about how to feed your family this Thanksgiving? If so, read on as we get into some of the places that offer Thanksgiving help for low-income families.

The Salvation Army

One of the organizations that offers Thanksgiving help for low-income families is the Salvation Army.

The Salvation Army runs a number of food-orientated programs for people in need. These include both Thanksgiving grocery baskets and hot meals on Thanksgiving day. 

The Salvation Army typically distributes the Thanksgiving food baskets via their food pantries. These food baskets are ideal if you have cooking amenities but lack the budget to buy ingredients.

If you would like to obtain a Thanksgiving food basket, get into contact with your closest Salvation Army food pantry ahead of time. 

If you would like to locate a Salvation Army food pantry near you, click here for their location directory search

Besides their food baskets, the Salvation Army also provides pre-cooked meals to those in need in some areas. In some areas, these meals may be served buffet-style.

In other cases, these pre-cooked turkey dinner meals may be distributed by volunteers to those that are homebound, such as seniors and shut-ins, or other people who are unable to pick up the food for themselves. 

In some locations, the Salvation Army may provide takeout lunch bags and small gifts or toys for children during thanksgiving.

Take note that many Salvation Army locations may require you to show proof of residency in their area. If you can, be sure to call or message ahead to confirm this.

Other Assistance From the Salvation Army

The Salvation Army doesn’t just offer assistance with food and Thanksgiving meals. The organization also provides financial help for low-income people in emergency situations.

Depending on where you live, they may also provide disaster recovery services, family counseling, emergency shelters, church services, youth camps, and music and arts programs in your area. 

Meals on Wheels

Another organization that provides Thanksgiving help for low-income families is Meals on Wheels. 

They have a standalone program called Thanksgiving Meals on Wheels. This organization focuses its efforts on delivering a piping hot Thanksgiving meal to those in need, including turkey, potatoes, dressing, rolls, and pie. 

Meals on Wheels typically caters to seniors in need who cannot cook for themselves. However, the Meals on Wheels Thanksgiving division is available to everyone who needs it and is not solely for seniors. 

If you would like to put your name on the list for a Meals on Wheels Thanksgiving dinner, you can contact them via phone anytime after November the 1st. The number to call is 651-699-5404.

Also, keep in mind that if you are elderly they do also provide ongoing meal assistance for seniors. 

Faith Organizations and Community Dinners

Besides the Salvation Army, there are many other churches and faith-based organizations that offer assistance with meals for Thanksgiving. 

The exact churches and denominations that provide assistance will depend on the area you live in. However, as a rule of thumb, Catholic churches and St. Vincent de Paul congregations are some of the most active when it comes to providing help around Thanksgiving. 

That said, this doesn’t mean these are the only Christian organizations that offer Thanksgiving meals and help. Many other denominations have locally based programs that can be of assistance. 

If you would like to find out what is available in your area, you can contact the surrounding churches, ask your neighbors, or even check local Facebook groups. If you aren’t sure of their names, locations, or contact details, you can utilize the USAchurches.org directory service to find churches and religious organizations near you. 

Because these programs are location-specific, the support and food offered usually depend on what donations and volunteers they get. These programs often rely on stores, fundraisers, restaurants, and other external sources for their offerings.

There may also be a non-denominational community dinner in your area. Search for “free Thanksgiving dinner near me” or similar to uncover ideas.

Local Food Banks

Another great resource for Thanksgiving help for low-income families is food banks

Although food banks generally do not distribute food directly to those in need, they do receive, store, and distribute food to smaller satellite organizations.

If you have a food bank in your area, you may be able to get in contact with them and find out whether they are involved in any Thanksgiving programs. 

Although they might not directly provide Thanksgiving help for low-income people, they may still be able to point you in the direction of the right centers to contact. 

To find a food bank in your area, you can visit the Feeding America website

Food Pantries (or Cabinets)

Besides contacting a local food bank, you can also get into contact with any food pantries (also known as food cabinets) in your area.

If you contact a food bank (as mentioned above) they will likely be able to put you in contact with food pantries that provide Thanksgiving help for low-income households.

Along with contacting food banks, you can also locate food pantries near you by searching in online directories, such as this one from foodpantries.org

Soup Kitchens

Other places that may offer Thanksgiving help for low-income people are soup kitchens

The exact assistance offered will depend on the location. However, if your local soup kitchen is amply staffed and supplied, there is a good chance they will be able to provide a Thanksgiving meal for those in need. 

Soup kitchens typically offer meals at their location. Some may also provide carry-out.

If you aren’t sure of the contact details for your local soup kitchen check out this soup kitchen directory.

Look Into Coupons

If you are reading this ahead of time, another thing you can look into is food coupons around Thanksgiving time. 

Some stores may offer coupons or other discounts during the Thanksgiving period. While this might not net you an entire Thanksgiving meal, having some coupons to cash in can ease the burden of purchasing extras for Thanksgiving. 

Coupon deals vary based on the year and the stores in your area. Keep your eyes out for Thanksgiving coupons ahead of time so you can take advantage of them. 

Applying for SNAP

Another way you can apply for food assistance is through SNAP.

This program does not supply Thanksgiving meals specifically, but if you qualify it can help you and your family with food expenses all year round.

If you fall within a certain income bracket, you may be eligible for the program. Once approved, you will receive SNAP benefits on an EBT card. This card functions similarly to a debit card and you can use it at approved food stores and retail outlets. 

SNAP benefits aren’t a Thanksgiving-specific form of help. But they can be a valuable form of support throughout the year.

If you would like to get started, you can read one of our articles on applying for SNAP here

Thanksgiving Help for Low-Income Families

If you’re facing financial challenges, it can be hard to find affordable ways to celebrate Thanksgiving.

Fortunately, there are a number of programs that offer Thanksgiving help for low-income families. No matter where you live, there may be a center or program near you that can help. Options include Salvation Army centers, the Meals on Wheels Thanksgiving program, faith-based programs, food pantries, and more. 

If you are struggling with food security for your family, don’t forget to look into applying for SNAP to help you with your grocery bills throughout the year. 

If this article about Thanksgiving help for low-income families was helpful, you may qualify for free wireless service through the federal Lifeline program. You can check your eligibility now by clicking here.