Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service

Where to Get Free Thanksgiving Meals

And how you can help the needy this holiday.

By , Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service - Nov 21st, 2020 02:34 pm
Though large gatherings are canceled, food pantries like this one at the Milwaukee Islamic Dawah Center, are still open this week. File photo by Mark Doremus/NNS.

Though large gatherings are canceled, food pantries like this one at the Milwaukee Islamic Dawah Center, are still open this week. File photo by Mark Doremus/NNS.

This Thanksgiving is set to be unlike any other, with large public gatherings canceled this year. But that doesn’t mean that those in need of a meal are out of options.

We’ve created a list of food pantries, food banks, and meal distribution centers that are open. Note that this is not a complete list, and times and locations may have changed by the time you read this. Please call before visiting a site. We want to keep this list updated. If we have missed a resource, let us know by emailing your information to with “meals” in the subject line.

Aggregated resources for food pantries

The Hunger Task Force has created an interactive map complete with food pantries, MPS meal sites, non-MPS meal sites, meal sites for seniors and more. The map is updated daily, but call the location before you visit to make sure it is still open.

Feeding America also has an interactive map of food pantries and meal programs located across eastern Wisconsin. The map is updated regularly but call the location before you visit to make sure it is still open.

Use the 2-1-1 Wisconsin website to find the food pantry in your neighborhood.

Call Impact at 2-1-1, which can connect you to food pantries and meal programs in your area. You can also text your ZIP code to TXT-211.

Meal distribution drives, raffles, and turkey giveaways

The Dominican Center is distributing 100 Thanksgiving dinner boxes to residents in the Amani neighborhood. Residents can register for a dinner box by completing this survey about neighborhood safety. There will also be a $50 raffle for every 50 surveys completed.

The Milwaukee Center for Independence is partnering with the Hunger Task Force to offer 7-day meal kits. On Monday, it  will be distributing these kits at Clarke Square Park (2330 W. Vieau Pl.) from 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. On Tuesday, it will distribute at its Maximus location (4201 N. 27th St.) from 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.

St. Vincent de Paul Society of Milwaukee is operating two meal program sites on Wednesday and Thursday. Its South Side location at 931 W. Madison St. will be open Wednesday and Thursday from noon to 12:45 p.m. Its North Side location at 2600 N. 2nd St. will only be open Wednesday from noon to 12:45 p.m.

The Neighborhood House pantry, located at 2819 W. Richardson Place, will be open to serve residents of the 53208 and 53233 ZIP codes on Wednesday from noon to 2 p.m. and Thursday from 10 a.m. to noon. On Thursday, the pantry is giving away turkeys on a first-come, first-serve basis until turkeys are gone in addition to regular food bags.

COA Youth and Family Centers is keeping its normal hours at its food pantry located at 2320 W. Burleigh St. COA will also be giving out grocery store gift cards at its locations. Hours are available here.

Milwaukee County is giving away 1,500 turkeys at the King Community Center (1531 W. Vliet St.) on Tuesday. The giveaway starts at 10 a.m. and will continue until all turkeys are given away. This event is drive-through only, enter on Vliet Street.

Waiting lists for free meals

COA also is providing meals to families. Right now slots are full, but you can add yourself to the waiting list by calling 414-265-7689.

Capuchin Community Services is distributing holiday food boxes to seniors this Thanksgiving and families with children during Christmas. Slots are currently full, but you can join a wait list by calling 414-933-1300

Want to volunteer or support?

The best way to support these organizations is to donate. You can donate to each organization via their website linked above. In addition to these organizations, here are some other opportunities to help out.

In addition to donating here, people can support Neighborhood House’s work by donating non-perishable, healthy food to its food pantry. Donations can be dropped off or mailed to 2819 W. Richardson Pl., Milwaukee, Wi 53208.

Doorway Ministries is looking for donations to its food pantries. Ideal drop-off times are Tuesdays and Thursdays between 10:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. Items needed include canned beef and chicken, spam, sardines, Vienna sausages, baked beans, spaghetti-o’s, canned yams, mac & cheese, cereal, chicken noodle soup, and long grain rice.

Aurora Family Service is distributing meal vouchers to 3,100 families this season. The families have already been chosen, but those with enough this season can still help out by donating here. Every gift of $35 helps another family in need enjoy a Thanksgiving meal.

Feeding America has taken its annual “Stuff the Bus” Thanksgiving fundraiser virtual this year. You can learn more about how to participate or donate here.

This story was originally published by Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service, where you can find other stories reporting on fifteen city neighborhoods in Milwaukee.

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