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Free Thanksgiving Meals Available

Wild turkeys seen in central Vermont recently. Photo by Carla Occaso.
Local businesses, food pantries, and churches will be offering free Thanksgiving meals open to the public this holiday season. Here is a partial list of the offerings.

Nov. 16-18: 22nd Annual Pack the Pantry Food and Funds Drive

The event will be November 16, 17, and 18, at the Price Chopper in Berlin. The drive is “a beloved community event aimed to rally individuals, businesses, and organizations to come together in the spirit of giving, ensuring that no family goes hungry during the upcoming holiday season,” according to a press release from TJ Michaels, organizer, and Barre resident who started the event.

After this summer, “you’ve got a bigger need than ever,” wrote Michaels. “We’ll accept canned goods, boxed and non-perishable meal kits, essentially anything that won’t spoil,” as well as monetary donations. For more information, visit facebook.com/packthpantry. Donations are accepted online at easternusa.salvationarmy.org/northern-new-england/barre.

American Legion in Barre

The American Legion in Barre will be providing food at Enough Ministries Thanksgiving Day from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., with take-out and deliveries. Meals are available for Barre Town and Barre City residents, but not for Montpelier, said Legion member Dennis Barney.

The free cooked meals “will be turkey, squash, mashed potatoes, stuffing, rolls, cranberry sauce, and gravy if you want it. And pie,” said Barney. The turkey will be cooked by Capstone, also in Barre.

Barney said people should call in advance, and can sign up from now until Nov. 22, at 802-479-9058, or by calling Barney at 802-249-0265. They will try to get deliveries to people before noon. “Last year we fed over 500 people,” he said.

Nov. 22: Salvation Army Food Pantry in Barre

The Salvation Army food pantry in Barre will have “full Thanksgiving meals ready to go,” for pick-up on Wednesday, Nov. 22, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., said Major Katie Jache. “If people are in need, they can come and get it. We don’t have the space for dine-in right now, because of flooding,” she said. “If people need help, we’re here. That’s really it.”

Nov. 23: Gusto’s Restaurant in Barre

Gusto’s will be providing take-out Thanksgiving dinners on Thursday, Nov. 23, from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. at 28 Prospect Street in Barre, said a Gusto’s manager who did not provide her name. “No dine-in that day,” she said.

“We will have turkey and mashed potatoes,” and fixings like green beans and rolls, she said. There are no restrictions on where people are from, and no need to call ahead of time, but “it’s probably per person that walks in, so definitely bring everybody who wants to eat,” said the manager.

Mid-December: Just Basics

Just Basics, Montpelier’s Food Pantry, will be offering a holiday basket in mid-December, said Executive Director Jamie Bedard. She said they will be giving out Shaw’s gift cards, hams, turkeys, sometimes Tofurky, and whatever fixings they have.

“I’m trying to just be as stocked with the raw ingredients as possible,” said Bedard, as turkey supplies are running low. “We used to be drowning in turkeys this time of year,” but “last year, with the avian flu, it went way down,” she said. “We generally have 150 or so. We don’t usually run out.”

The baskets will be available for pickup at 89 Main Street in Montpelier, behind the City Center Building, at the entrance by the parking garage. They will not have restrictions on who can get food, and people do not need to call ahead of time.

Williamstown Food Shelf — Food Distribution Center — 802-433-5453

“We will be giving out turkeys and all the fixings that we can get a hold of, we are kind of restricting that to the people that live in Williamstown,” said a person answering the phone for the food shelf. They ask that people sign up in advance because “we’ve had a problem in the past with people coming from outside claiming they came from here,” he said. They will be open Saturdays, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., at the back of the United Federated Church.

Waterbury Area Food Shelf — 802-244-1561

Thanksgiving bags of “turkey, and all the fixings” will be available at the Waterbury Common Market, the area’s food shelf, for the next two weeks, said a person answering the phone at the market. The bags will only be available to residents of Waterbury and the surrounding towns of Middlesex and Moretown, Duxbury, Waterbury Center, Bolton, and Stowe. Pick-up hours are 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. Monday and Friday, and 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday. People are asked to call in advance.

Past deadline: National Life Group and Sodexo

The deadline for signing up for a free Thanksgiving meal through National Life Group and Sodexo has passed, but they are directing people to Gusto’s and the meal at Enough Ministries, said Daphne Larkin. As well, according to a press release about the event, “In the spirit of giving, the National Life Do Good Cupboard, located at 58 Barre Street in front of the Montpelier Senior Activity Center, is always hungry for donations.”