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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Local places to offer free Thanksgiving dinners this week to Tucson community

Eric Pancer / Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

For college students, Thanksgiving mostly elicits thoughts of a turkey dinner, gratitude and family. However, some college students—particularly those who have taken out loans—are also familiar with the meaning of food insecurity.

If you are one of the unlucky few to be stuck in town without your family this Thanksgiving and want a free meal or are interested in helping out others who can’t afford one themselves, here’s a list of places that are offering free Thanksgiving dinners in Tucson.

Gospel Rescue Mission Thanksgiving Street Banquet

This will be the 28th year that Gospel Rescue Mission holds a Thanksgiving meal for residents of Tucson, which is funded primarily by private donations.

“About 70 percent of the South Tucson community is at or below the poverty level,” said Victor Hightower, Gospel Rescue Mission’s public relations and outreach coordinator.

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Hightower said Tucson is the poorest municipality in the state of Arizona, meaning that dinners like these go a long way for socioeconomically challenged people.

Gospel Rescue Mission greatly appreciates donations that can be made online.

For those interested in attending the event, it is happening in the middle of 28th Street between 10th and Ninth Avenues on Wednesday, Nov. 23 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The meals will include turkey, mashed potatoes, among a plethora of other foods.

The Salvation Army and St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church

For the 33rd year in a row, the Salvation Army will be hosting a Community Thanksgiving MealThursday, Nov. 24, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church, 1145 E. Fort Lowell Rd.

The Community Thanksgiving Meal is one of the largest Thanksgiving events to happen in Tucson and, like other events, is entirely donation-based. Shawna Kroh, the public relations director of the Salvation Army Tucson Area Coordination, said that about 1,500 people attended last year—a decrease from 3,000 in earlier years.

“We serve it on the day of Thanksgiving,” Kroh said. The Salvation Army also delivers meals to people’s homes.

Canned vegetables and other foods are always appreciated and can be donated in person to the Salvation Army Hospitality House on 1002 N. Main Ave.Monetary donations can be made to the Salvation Army on their website.

Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona

Although the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona doesn’t distribute special meals on Thanksgiving, the holiday season is nevertheless a busy time for the organization.

Lou Medran, public relations manager, said that last Tuesday, Nov. 15, was a bustling day for the food bank, as was Thursday Nov. 17, with the food bank’s parking lot full of people visiting to get their monthly standard food box.

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The Community Food Bank also hosted Thanksgiving on the Mayflower at Sam’s Club and fundraised for the upcoming holiday season, with multiple businesses coming out to show their support.

“We have year-round fundraising corporations that provide hunger release for people across Southern Arizona,” Medran said.

The food bank provides meals to 250 pantries, churches, rural communities and more.

According to Medran, the food bank is never out of food, with some federal funding preventing it from ever turning people away and events like Thanksgiving on the Mayflower contributing food to the Food Bank.

For the week of Thanksgiving, the Food Bank will be operating Tuesday, Nov. 22, and Wednesday, Nov. 23, between 9 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. at 3003 S. Country Club Rd. People who bring picture identification or proof of residency can pick up one standard food box.

Free Community Thanksgiving Meal & Promotora Program

Starting with Promotoras who wanted to help homeless and impoverished communities, this event is sponsored by Portable, Practical Educational Preparation, Inc., and Cenpatico Integrated Care, according to the event’s poster.

Connie Martinez, executive assistant to the CEO of PPEP, has been part of the Community Thanksgiving Meal since it began a year ago.

“We had over 400 people come last year,” Martinez said. “And we’re expecting to continue with that same outcome.”

Cash, check or food items are acceptable for donations, with turkey and canned vegetables being the most needed. For those interested in going, a traditional Thanksgiving meal will be served.

The Thanksgiving meals will be given out Monday, Nov. 21, at the Armory Park Center, 221 S. 6th Ave, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. The event will also feature raffles, entertainment and a resource fair.

Follow Lizzie Quinlan on Twitter.

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