Where to find food and meals for Thanksgiving

By Allyson Rey on September 14, 2021

For some families who are struggling with poverty and hunger, Thanksgiving can be a bittersweet holiday. Food insecurity can make it difficult to obtain the needed ingredients for a special meal, as can financial difficulties, high medical bills, low wages, and lack of transportation.

But it’s still possible to make the holiday a special time with loved ones.

Stark Help Central.com wants to help ensure everyone can enjoy the holiday, especially children, by sharing resources and tips for securing food for a holiday meal.

Food drives and food pantries

Ongoing assistance can be found via food drives and food pantries, which often put special focus on securing the ingredients for a Thanksgiving meal.

Check out the Akron-Regional Food Bank, which provides emergency food via 500 food pantries and hot meal sites in the region. (Note that the food bank will be closed Nov. 25-26.)

The Food Bank has also been a past partner of the Coats and Cans for Kids Turkey Giveaway in conjunction with Kisling, Nestico and Redick.

The Stark County Hunger Task Force is another source of food for area families via its emergency food pantry.

Turkey dinners

Numerous organizations also provide entire turkey dinners to those in need.

You may be able to enjoy a hot meal, or pick up the ingredients to cook your own, via St. John and St. Peter Catholic Churches, Chapel of the Cross United Methodist, LIFE Ministries, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, the Salvation Army, and others. Also check out Rising Hope Canton and Alliance Hope Organizations for help with receiving a hot meal.

Emergency assistance

With emergency assistance from the United Way, you may be able to avoid being forced to choose between paying bills and buying a special holiday meal. The emergency assistance program offers aid to people struggling to pay their utility bills, rent, or mortgage, which can free up resources for Thanksgiving.

A place to stay

For some families, the most difficult part of the holiday season is finding a safe place to stay. Families can get help locating compatible housing and living arrangements via the Stark County Homeless Hotline. Other resources to explore include:

Other assistance

With Christmas drawing near as well, families can seek out additional holiday help from initiatives such as Coats for Kids, Toys for Tots, and Angel Tree. These programs match children with eager donors who provide toys, clothing and more in a spirit of giving.

How to get help

To get help with food and housing, begin by calling the United Way’s 211 resource line, or visiting the charity or organization directly.

You may need to fill out a form or application. You may also need to bring proof of residency, proof of need, or otherwise meet requirements. Some groups may ask for a driver’s license or utility bill to show this proof.

The Salvation Army’s holiday assistance programs ask that you fill out an application in October or November at your local Salvation Army center.

If you or a loved one are in crisis, call Stark County’s crisis hotline at 330-452-6000.

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