There are so many ways to get a free Thanksgiving dinner near you! Whether you’re looking for groceries so that you can make a delicious meal at home or a hot meal from a local restaurant, we’ve scoured the internet to find all of the options available to you.
At Low Income Relief, we’ve been helping low income families across America save money and enjoy the holidays for more than 10 years. We’re excited to bring you this list of free Thanksgiving dinner resources, which we update every year for accuracy.
Get Free Thanksgiving Dinner Groceries
Groceries just seem to be getting more expensive by the day, so it’s no surprise that a big feast like Thanksgiving is busting so many people’s budgets this year. It’s heartbreaking, but those turkeys and fixings just aren’t as affordable as they used to be.
In this section, we’ll show you several ways that you can get the groceries you need for your Thanksgiving dinner without breaking the bank.
Of course, if you don’t have the resources to cook your own meal at home, that’s okay! Skip to our next subheading about ready-to-eat meals to find how you can enjoy a free Thanksgiving dinner that is hot and ready-to-eat in your community.
Ibotta’s Thanksgiving Promotion
For the last three years, our sponsor Ibotta has offered a free Thanksgiving dinner promotion. This is one of their most generous and most exciting promotions of the year!
When you shop with Ibotta, you can get 100% cash back on your holiday meal as long as you purchase your items between November 1st and November 22, 2023. However, supplies are limited and may run out before the deadline, so you need to act fast!
The items available for the 100% Thanksgiving cash back offer include:
- Stove Top Stuffing Mix
- Heinz HomeStyle Gravy
- Kraft Deluxe Mac & Cheese
- Velveeta Shells & Cheese
- Classico Pasta Sauce
- Maxwell House Coffee
- Finish® Ultimate Detergent
New customers can usually claim these rebates without having to redeem any offers. Existing customers will have to redeem 16 offers in order to unlock the free turkey and 4 offers to unlock the sides.
In order to get started, you just need to download the Ibotta app!
In addition to this generous promotion, Ibotta is also offering a new Free Thanksgiving for Life award to 25 winners. According to the contest terms, the 25 winners will each be awarded a grand prize of $4,000. In order to enter, you’ll need to refer friends or share a video on TikTok. You are required to have an Ibotta account to win.
Don’t forget that you can get cash back on your purchases through Ibotta even if you’re shopping with Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) food benefits, so this is a great way to help your food stamps funds stretch a little farther this holiday season!
Thanksgiving Heroes is a nationwide organization that provides free Thanksgiving dinners to families around the United States.
According to their website, their meals include the following:
- Turkey (15-20 pounds with a pan)
- Potatoes (10 pounds)
- Gravy mix
- Cranberry suace
- Green beans
- Cream of mushroom soup
- French onions
- Veggie tray
- Pumpkin Pie
- Whipped Cream
In 2023, you may be able to receive a holiday meal from Thanksgiving Heroes in the following cities:
- Cleveland Ohio
- Salt Lake City Utah
- Phoenix Arizona
- Las Vegas Nevada
- Dallas Texas
You’ll need to visit the Thanksgiving Heroes website and contact your local chapter for assistance.
Operation Turkey is a nationwide movement that organizes volunteers to provide Thanksgiving meals to the homeless and less fortunate. Their goal is to distribute food, clothing and other relief on Thanksgiving Day.
There are currently Operation Turkey locations in:
- North Carolina
- South Carolina
These areas have had Operation Turkey before and may again in the future:
- New Mexico
To get help from this organization, you just need to click Request a Meal on their website. You’ll need to select a location and how many plates you need. Each plate includes turkey, stuffing, vegetables, pie and a drink.
Many food banks prepare special Thanksgiving dinner boxes that include the basic staples to create a traditional holiday meal. These boxes may include items like potatoes, gravy mix, stuffing, green beans, cranberry sauce and other staples. Some food banks may provide a free turkey or a gift card so that you can purchase a turkey fresh from your local grocery store.
Even if your local food bank has been running a little low lately, take heart. Donations typically surge during the holiday season so your local organization may be better stocked than usual.
Catholic Charities is a nationwide organization that offers local assistance to low income households during the holidays. You do not have to be Catholic in order to receive help from Catholic Charities.
This organization typically offers free Thanksgiving dinner in the form of a food box. These boxes include basic staples like turkey, potatoes, stuffing, corn and sometimes even pumpkin pie!
These programs are still being announced in different areas, but here’s what we’ve been able to confirm that this organization is already offering free Thanksgiving Basket programs in Northern Nevada and several counties in New York.
Sometimes, you will need to register online or call ahead to reserve your basket. It is important to reach out as soon as possible because supplies are limited.
You can find your local Catholic Charities office by using the Find Help tool on their website.
St. Vincent de Paul
The St. Vincent de Paul Society exists across the United States but they offer different services in different areas. In some areas, they offer free food boxes. In other areas, they distribute gift cards or host hot meals. In most cases, though, it looks like they provide food boxes.
For example, the St. Vincent de Paul chapter in Boise, Idaho, has provided free Thanksgiving dinner boxes to the community for more than 47 years! These boxes include a free 10 pound turkey, 10 pounds of potatoes, a roasting pan and all the trimmings required to provide a festive meal for up to six people.
The exact details of what goes into these boxes will vary depending on where you live. Some chapters, like the one in Phoenix, Arizona, do not advertise exactly what is included in their food boxes.
In past years, some chapters (like the one in San Mateo, California) elected to provide gift cards instead of handling groceries directly. This was especially common during the height of the pandemic, when people were more concerned about the spread of illness.
You can find your local Society of St. Vincent de Paul chapter by using their location navigator.
Community Events & Giveaways
Lately, I’ve noticed an increase in giveaway activity on our community’s social media pages. If you need a little help with the holidays, it helps to be actively engaged or at least actively monitoring your area’s social media groups. If there’s a giveaway or event, you won’t want to miss it!
For example, I recently saw a Facebook post about the annual giveaways hosted by injury attorneys Lerner & Rowe. Every year, these guys give away free Thanksgiving meal baskets at specific locations. Here’s a list of their upcoming 2023 events:
- Nov 4: Phoenix, Arizona (750 meals available)
- Nov 7: Albuquerque, New Mexico (1,000 kits available)
- Nov 10: Tucson, Arizona (1,000 meals available)
- Nov 13: Henderson, Nevada (750 meals available)
- Nov 14: Bullhead City, Arizona (500 meals available)
- Nov 15: Yuma, Arizona (750 meals available)
- Nov 17: Merrillville, Indiana (1,000 meals available)
I have found that Facebook and NextDoor generally have the most resources like this, but following other social media platforms may also be useful.
Grocery Store Promotions
Many grocery stores offer special promotions that will reward you with a free turkey when you meet certain requirements. These may or may not be practical or even save you money, so it’s important to evaluate each offer carefully to make sure it’s a good fit for your budget.
Here are some promotions that are running for Thanksgiving 2023:
- Acme Markets will provide a free turkey if you spend $400 in their store before November 23, 2023. However, every purchase must be tracked with your Acme for U® phone number.
- BJ’s Warehouse Club will give you a free turkey if you spend more than $150 in a single transaction before November 9, 2023. You’ll need to use their app to get the Free Turkey coupon.
- Foodtown will give you a free turkey or a vegetarian Stouffer’s lasagna if you spend $400 with your Foodtown Club Card.
- Giant Foods will give you a free turkey if you earn 400 CHOICE points before November 23.
- ShopRite will give you a free turkey or ham if you spend $400 at a participating store before November 23.
Other grocery stores, including Safeway and Randalls, had promotions in 2022 but have not yet announced plans for 2023. You may want to check with your local grocery stores just in case.
Free Ready-to-Eat Thanksgiving Dinner
Not everyone has the capacity to cook Thanksgiving dinner at home and that’s okay! If you need a free Thanksgiving dinner that you can enjoy at a location near you, there are still many options available to you.
Most, if not all, Salvation Army chapters offer some form of free Thanksgiving dinner assistance. Sometimes this is provided as a hot meal and sometimes it is provided as a grocery box. One chapter may offer both types of assistance, depending on local needs.
In Oahu, Hawaii, the Salvation Army has served Thanksgiving Dinner for 51 years! This meal accommodates up to 2,000 guests who enjoy a free holiday meal together. The meal takes place every year on Thanksgiving at Neal S. Blaisdell Exhibition Hall.
In other areas, like Wrangell, Arkansas, the Salvation Army offers Thanksgiving food boxes instead. When families register to receive a box, they may also be invited to participate in the organization’s Christmas programs as well.
If you need help with your holiday meal, please reach out to your local Salvation Army and inquire about their programs. You often have to register in advance for this so it’s important to reach out right away. You can find your local Salvation Army chapter using their Location Search tool.
Salvation Army chapters are also well connected to your local community and may be able to point you in the right direction for even more help.
Many senior centers host Thanksgiving lunches or dinners for those who are interested. However, these meals sometimes happen the week prior to Thanksgiving to ensure that the center has enough volunteers and supplies available to make the meal possible.
If you are interested in seeing what your local senior center is offering this year, please contact them directly or reach out to your local Area Agency on Aging.
Community meal sites, often referred to as soup kitchens, have been a staple of the low income community’s Thanksgiving plans for years. There are thousands of different organizations who coordinate these meals, so it helps to search online or contact 211 to find out what is available in your area.
It is important to find your local community meal and register as soon as possible. When the organizers know how many people plan to be there, it helps them make sure they have enough food and volunteers available to accommodate those who want to eat.
These events often have other helpful resources attached to them. For example, those who attend the annual free Thanksgiving dinner provided by Mel Trotter Ministries in Grand Rapids, Michigan, can also receive a coat from their winter coat giveaway that happens at the same place and time.
Please reach out to United Way’s 211 service to find organizations in your area that provide free holiday meals. If you find some that aren’t on our list, please let us know!
Free Thanksgiving Dinner Delivered
If you’re homebound and unable to cook your own meals at home, Thanksgiving can feel like a disappointment. However, there are community services out there that can help you enjoy your holiday.
Sometimes, the American Legion partners with local organizations to deliver Thanksgiving dinners to those who are homebound. This varies by location and is not guaranteed in all areas.
In Connecticut, the local American Legion has partnered with the Griswold Senior Center to deliver free hot meals to those who are homebound. The meals will generously be delivered on Thanksgiving day to those who need it. However, you need to call the senior center at (860) 376-2604 to register in advance.
Meals on Wheels
If you are unable to travel to a location where a free Thanksgiving dinner is being served in your area, you may be eligible to have one delivered to your home!
The Meals on Wheels program brings nutritious meals to people who are homebound, disabled, or elderly and unable to prepare their own meals safely at home. If that sounds like something you can relate to, then you can contact your local Melas on Wheels program or Area Agency on Aging for more information.
Typically, the Meals on Wheels program will delivery a cold, pre-made meal prior to the holiday. All you’ll need to do is heat it up in the microwave so that you can enjoy it on Thanksgiving day.
Local Charities & Churches
Many local charities will deliver free Thanksgiving meals to your home.
For example, the Rescue Mission of Middle Georgia feeds approximately 1,500 people at their annual Thanksgiving meal. The meals are delivered on Thanksgiving morning to those who need them.
The Good Hope and Zion Lutheran Churches in Oil City, Pennsylvania, also deliver free Thanksgiving meals to those who need them. If you are elderly or homebound in their community, you can request help from them.
However, there are so many individual organizations around the country that we cannot list them all here. You will need to call 211 or conduct some online searches to find all the options in your area.
Some restaurants give away free Thanksgiving dinner to those who need it! In many cases, these meals are only available as takeout or delivery options so that the restaurants can serve paying customers in-person.
This offering is very limited and only available in certain areas. In 2023, we’ve been able to confirm that a handful of restaurants are offering this service.
For example, Allie B’s Cozy Kitchen in Albany, New York, will delivery hot turkey or chicken, sides and a dessert to those who do not have transportation. You need to call (518) 729-3472 before the holiday to request a meal.
The Brass Rail in OFallon, Missouri, will also provide free Thanksgiving dinner deliveries to those who need it. You can register online starting November 1. Do not call the restaurant because they do not accept requests over the phone. You will need to request your meal as soon as possible because supplies are limited.
There are other restaurants that do this as well but many don’t advertise this far in advance. You will need to call 211, check your local news sources, or follow local restaurants on social media to see what options are available in your area.
Whether you’re looking for groceries, hot meals, or delivered restaurant deliciousness, we’ve found many ways that you can get a free Thanksgiving dinner in 2023! These meal programs often require you to register in advance so don’t delay; request your free meal today!