Thanksgiving is nearly upon us, and while the holiday is usually filled with over-the-top spreads and indulgent dinners, we know many local families are struggling and could use the help of one of these local organizations offering a free turkey in NYC. Inflation, job loss, mounting debt, and worse, have left many New Yorkers facing food insecurity. With that in mind, we’ve rounded up 13 local organizations that are stepping up to make sure all who need help filling their tables or getting a hot meal this Thanksgiving can. From free turkey giveaways to take-out options and low-cost holiday meals, here’s where to get help this holiday season.
If you’re fortunate enough to have a full pantry and pocketbook, consider donating to one of these exceptional organizations to help others across the city, and put the “thanks” in Thanksgiving by lending a hand at one of these local Thanksgiving volunteer opportunities. You can find more ways to spend the day in our New York City Thanksgiving Guide.
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While many of the organizations below focus on Thanksgiving and the holiday season, it’s also worth noting help is available year-round. NYC has established a Food Delivery Assistance program if you meet certain qualifications. You can always locate your nearest food pantry and community kitchen by calling the Emergency Food Hotline at 866-888-8777 or dialing 311. The Get Food NYC map is also a handy site to bookmark.
Where to Find Free Turkey in NYC for Thanksgiving 2022
1. Catholic Charities of New York – Harlem
Monday, November 21
Lt. Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Memorial Community Center
This organization has an annual tradition of providing free Thanksgiving turkeys and trimmings. This year’s in-person free turkey distribution event takes place from 6-8pm the Monday before Thanksgiving. Advance registration is required.
2. The Salvation Army Harlem Temple Corps – Harlem
This Salvation Army organizes a Thanksgiving and Christmas basket registration for families with children 12 and under who reside in specific Manhattan zip codes. The deadline for registration generally happens in late October. More information can be found by following its Facebook page.
3. Gardiner Foundation Turkey Giveaway – Fordham, the Bronx
Saturday, November 19
St. James Park, East 193rd Street between Jerome Avenue and Creston Avenue
In past years, this organization has distributed 1,100 free turkeys, plus all the trimmings, to the community through its annual Thanksgiving turkey giveaway.
4. Reaching-Out Community Services’ Operation Gobbler Give – Brooklyn
Monday, November 21
This Brooklyn-based community organization is once again providing free turkeys and Thanksgiving trimmings to families in need at the 2022 Operation Gobbler Give. If you are interested in one of its Thanksgiving Day meals, you must be registered with its food program. If you would like to sponsor this event, please call 917-509-9055. You can also donate directly on the website.
5. New York State of Mind (NYSoM) Food Drive – Glendale, Queens
Saturday, November 19
This local organization hosts a food drive to distribute food, including turkeys, pies, and canned or boxed items to families in need. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.
RELATED: Thanksgiving Volunteer Options in NYC for Kids and Families
West Side Campaign Against Hunger aims to distribute free turkeys and other holiday foods to more than 10,000 families. Photo courtesy of the organization
6. West Side Campaign Against Hunger – Upper West Side
Church of St. Paul & St. Andrew
Every year, West Side Campaign Against Hunger launches its Turkey Challenge to ensure everyone has access to Thanksgiving meals with their families. This year, it aims to distribute free turkeys and other holiday foods to more than 10,000 families. Turkeys are distributed during its regular shopping hours. If you are in need of these services, you can register with the pantry by visiting the location, by calling 212-362-3662 Ext. 126, or emailing email@example.com.
7. Masbia Soup Kitchen – Multiple Brooklyn and Queens Locations
This well-known organization operates both a food pantry and a daily takeaway dinner service (more on that below). Families who need food staples can sign up for a once-per-week pantry take-home package. These are available by appointment Monday through Friday at designated times. As a rule of thumb, pay particular attention to the time (morning or evening) when you book. All goods are first come, first served, and the pantry does expect to have a limited supply of whole kosher turkeys available.
8. Local Soup Kitchens – Citywide
While local org City Harvest doesn’t distribute directly to the public, this food rescue program is planning to deliver 14,000 turkeys to 200 soup kitchens and food pantries all across the city. It also sponsors an annual Repack to Give Back event where staff packs up 200,000 pounds of holiday foods into individual family-sized bags, which are also distributed citywide to soup kitchens to be handed out to those in need.
NYC Organizations Offering Hot Thanksgiving Meals
9. RISE Rockaway – Arverne, Queens
Saturday, November 19
RISE, 58-03 Rockway Beach Boulevard
On the Saturday before Thanksgiving, RISE hosts a Rockaway Thanksgiving Feast that is FREE for all who attend. Registration is required, and unfortunately, the meal has already sold out. We’re keeping it on the list as a reminder to register early next year. Guests enjoy a sit-down, community-style feast. Servings are limited to three per household. Local Rockaway restaurants such as La Cevicheria and Rockaway Beach Bakery provide delicious Thanksgiving favorites for this community meal.
10. DOROT’s Thanksgiving Meal Delivery – Upper West Side
Sunday, November 20 and Monday, November 21
DOROT delivers homemade Thanksgiving meals to homebound seniors citywide during Thanksgiving week and seeks volunteers to pick up and deliver the meals to each senior’s door, then call or visit the senior to share holiday wishes. Volunteers must be age 18+ or families with children ages 10-17 who commit to following DOROT’s safety guidelines. If you know a senior who could benefit from DOROT’s aid, call 212-769-2850.
11. Xavier Mission Thanksgiving Dinner – Chelsea
Thursday, November 24 and Sunday, November 27
55 West 15th Street
While this meal is traditionally geared toward the elderly and disabled, no one is turned away from the holiday celebration. A second Thanksgiving Welcome Table meal is traditionally served the Sunday following the holiday, too.
RELATED: 26 Restaurants Open on Thanksgiving in NYC
Masbia’s kosher pantry distributes tons of supplies to needy neighbors. Photo courtesy of Masbia
12. Masbia – Multiple Locations
Masbia’s emergency food program operates three facilities in Flatbush, Forest Hills, and Boro Park. The organization serves more than 2 million meals each year. All who are hungry are welcome to pick up dinner Monday through Thursday, and Thanksgiving favorites will be served during the holiday week.
13. The Bowery Mission – Multiple Locations
Thursday, November 24
The Bowery Mission hosts its 143rd Thanksgiving dinner in 2022. Warm Thanksgiving plates are given to all those in need. All hot Thanksgiving meals are served on-site at the Bowery Mission’s historic chapel. Both indoor and outdoor seating is available. Hot breakfast is also served at this location prior to the traditional Thanksgiving Day meal.
Originally published in November 2020
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