Hungry? Or want to help?

Where to enjoy free Thanksgiving meals or donate your services

For people who can’t afford a turkey on the table or gifts under the tree this year, there are many places to get help or a warm meal. In addition, those seeking to donate time or goods also have several options around the county.
According to the American Farm Bureau Federation, the average price of a traditional Thanksgiving meal is up about 13 percent from 2010, an increase that could put this holiday dinner out of reach for many families.
Here, organized by town, is a list of where to give and receive – or just gather with neighbors for a Thanksgiving meal. Readers are encouraged to call the numbers to confirm details. You can also contact your local town hall for information on food banks and meals for the hungry.

Jersey City

St. Lucy’s Shelter (619 Grove St.) will hold its annual Thanksgiving dinner for anyone in need on Thanksgiving Day beginning at 4 p.m. The shelter also accepts donations of food, supermarket gift certificates, winter clothing, and money throughout the year. Donations can be dropped off at the shelter. For more information, call (201) 656-7201.

The Iron Monkey (97 Greene St.) in Jersey City will team up to with the city’s Division of Senior Affairs and the Visiting Homemaker Service of Hudson County to offer a “complimentary Thanksgiving day celebration to the Jersey City family,” according to the restaurant. The restaurant will offer meals at four seating times throughout the day: 11 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 2 p.m., and 3:30 p.m. Reservations are recommenced, although walk-ins will be welcomed. To RSVP, call (201) 435-5756. Those interested in volunteering can also call to offer their assistance. There will be a meeting for volunteers on Wednesday, Nov. 23 from 2 to 5 p.m. Volunteers will work in shifts on Thanksgiving Day from 1 until 5 p.m.

Donations are sought and free meals are being given out throughout the county.
The Salvation Army at 562 Bergen Ave. is holding a community Thanksgiving dinner on Nov. 24 from 6 to 8 p.m. Free and open to the public. The organization also welcomes donations at the Salvation Army food pantry. For more information call (201) 435-7355.

On Thanksgiving Day, Hard Grove Café (319 Grove St.) will gather to offer a hearty meal to anyone who wants to join the restaurant’s staff and regular patrons. The café offers the Thanksgiving Day dinner with assistance from the Jersey City Police Department, which donates turkeys and time. Additional donations of pumpkin pie, potatoes, cranberry sauce, rolls, and stuffing from the community are welcome, as are volunteers. To sign up or get more information call (201) 451-1853.

St. John the Baptist and Our Lady of Mt. Carmel parishes are sponsoring a free Thanksgiving dinner from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the St. John the Baptist School auditorium, 3044 Kennedy Blvd. (enter parking lot side of school on Huron Avenue). Also volunteers are needed on Wed. Nov. 24 from 7 to 9 p.m. and Thanksgiving from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. For more information, call (201) 963-1383.


Hoboken’s interfaith community will kick off the Thanksgiving season early with a 4 p.m. service on Sunday, Nov. 20 at the United Synagogue of Hoboken (115 Park Ave). The event is sponsored by the Hoboken Clergy Coalition. The service highlights Hoboken’s religious and cultural diversity and includes the participation of priests, ministers and rabbis in Hoboken, together with prayers and musical presentations from various religious traditions. The service will also include a collection of food for the In Jesus’s Name Food Pantry at Our Lady of Grace Church (411 Clinton St.), and a collection of funds for the Hoboken Shelter (300 Bloomfield St.) Non-perishable food for the pantry is also being collected at Hoboken City Hall (94 Washington Street) throughout this week.

The city of Hoboken is still accepting monetary donations from the community for its upcoming Hoboken Family and Friends Thanksgiving Dinner. The free dinner will be served on Tuesday, Nov. 22, at two locations – one for senior citizens and one for the city’s pubic housing community at large.
The senior dinner will be from 3 to 5:30 p.m. at the Multi-Service Center at 124 Grand St. The second meal will be served from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the community room at 221 Jackson St. The meals will include roasted turkey breast, gravy, mashed potatoes, stuffing, corn, cranberry sauce, and rice pudding for dessert.
Transportation will be arranged for residents from Fox Hill Gardens and Christopher Columbus Gardens and other uptown senior buildings.
The meal, to be catered by Hashway’s Deli of North Bergen, is paid for with donations from the public and hosted by Hoboken Housing Authority Commissioner Jake Stuiver, HHA Executive Director Carmelo Garcia, Mayor Dawn Zimmer, and Save the Youth Academy Founder Luis Acevedo. Stuiver said the city still needs community donations to make the Thanksgiving dinner a reality.
“The Family & Friends Thanksgiving Dinner…is a bona fide pass-the-hat arrangement, and when there’s a fund-raising shortfall, it falls to the central organizers to make up the difference,” Stuiver said. The city welcomes donations of any amount, from $5 or $500. To make a donation or to volunteer, contact Stuiver at or (201) 978-8977.

The Hoboken Homeless Shelter (300 Bloomfield St.) will offer a full day of activities and food for the needy on Thanksgiving Day. Dinner will be served at 7:30 p.m. and will be preceded by a movie and other cultural events for the shelter’s clients. Cultural events will begin at 2:30 p.m. Volunteers are welcomed to work at the shelter in shifts. The shelter is also in dire need to paper goods and utensils for t he day’s meal. To make a donation or to volunteer, call Jaclyn Cherubini at (201) 656-5069.

A Thanksgiving Day breakfast for the needy will take place at St Matthew’s Trinity Church on Eighth Street (between Washington and Hudson) from 9 to 11 a.m. For more information, or to make a food or utensil donation, call (201) 659-4499.

Mario’s Pizza at Eighth and Garden Streets is offering a free Thanksgiving meal for those in need, as they do every year. For more information, call (201) 659-0808.


Weehawken’s Palisades Emergency Residence Corporation (PERC) branch located at 108 36th St. is accepting nonperishable food and paper good donations in preparation for Thanksgiving. The organization will host a meal on Thanksgiving Day at 5:30 p.m. for those in need. Donations can be dropped off at the shelter. For more information, please call (201) 348-8150 or visit

There will also be a food drive sponsored by Good Shepherd Church (98 Columbia Dr.) The church is need of nonperishable food items – particularly baby food – in addition to paper goods. Please call (201) 863-2029 to make donations.

North Bergen/Guttenberg

On Thanksgiving Day, from noon until 3 p.m., Woodcliff Community Church (7605 Palisade Ave. in North Bergen) will host a complimentary lunch for the community. The meal will include turkey, ham, lasagna, rice, mashed potatoes, string beans, sweet potatoes, pumpkin pie, and apple pie. All are welcome. For more information, call (201) 936-7630.

Union City

The Palisades Emergency Residence Corporation (PERC) will host a multicultural public Thanksgiving dinner on Wednesday, Nov. 23 at 6 p.m. at the organization’s soup kitchen on 111 37 St. About 200 people are expected to attend, so donations and volunteers are both welcome and vital. PERC staffers specifically request donations of nonperishable items and paper goods for Thanksgiving and the upcoming December holiday season.
To make a donation or to inquire about volunteer opportunities, call PERC at (201) 348-8150.

On Sat., Nov. 19, the Brian Stack Civic Association planned to package and distribute 17,000 turkeys throughout the neighborhoods beginning at 9 a.m. If you have questions, the Civic Association can be reached at (201) 348-8338.

West New York

St. Joseph of the Palisades in West New York has been holding a food drive for the upcoming holiday season. They planned to distribute food for those in need on Saturday, Nov. 19. Call (201) 854-7006 for more information.


The Secaucus Food Pantry expects to feed about 16 Secaucus families on Thanksgiving Day, whose meals will be delivered by members of the Town Council. Lisa Snedeker, director of community and senior services, said the pantry feeds needy families year-round and often makes donations to other shelters and pantries in Hudson County. Snedeker said the pantry currently has a “wish list” of several items which includes such food items as canned tuna fish, instant and canned potatoes, macaroni and cheese, canned meats (turkey, chicken, ham), pork and beans, baked beans, noodle side mixes, canned meals (stew, chili, ravioli, hash), soups, rice and rice mixes, Hamburger Helper/Tuna Helper, pasta, canned tomato products, and pasta sauce. The pantry is also in need of personal hygiene items. To donate food, personal hygiene items, or supermarket gift cards, call, (201) 330-2014.
E-mail E. Assata Wright at

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