Hungry or want to help?
Where to get a free meal, donate, or volunteer for Thanksgiving
by E. Assata Wright
Reporter Staff Writer
Nov 24, 2013 | 6170 views | 0 0 comments | 93 93 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Dozens of volunteers showed up to serve Thanksgiving meals at The Urban Mission last year, where hundreds of meals were served.
view slideshow (3 images)

A local homeless shelter can use free turkeys, volunteers to cook, and jackets and gloves. Another could use plates and cups.

Each year, the Reporter offers an overview of places where people throughout Hudson County can go to get a Thanksgiving meal if they can’t afford one, and where to volunteer or donate.

But we’ve found that some of the free dinners have less to do with poverty and more to do with community. Many of the folks who come out to volunteer or eat see the day as a great opportunity to get to know their neighbor – the ones next door who they see every day, and the ones across town who they’ve never met.

Jersey City

St. Lucy’s Shelter (619 Grove St.) will hold its annual Thanksgiving dinner for anyone in need on Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, Nov. 28, 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.

For the 17th year in a row, the Iron Monkey (97 Greene St.) will offer a “complimentary Thanksgiving day celebration to the Jersey City family,” according to the restaurant.

Last year, the restaurant served more than 500 meals on Thanksgiving Day and has set a goal of serving 600 this year.

“This is something that we do every year to give back to our neighbors and friends,” said Stephen McIntyre, the owner of the Iron Monkey. “We open our doors to anyone who needs a delicious and traditional Thanksgiving meal, or somewhere to go for the holiday.”

While most of the restaurant’s guests come from senior housing developments, many others are non-seniors who just come to have dinner with their neighbors.

The restaurant will offer meals at four seating times throughout the day, beginning at 11 a.m. The last seating will be at 4 p.m. Reservations are recommended, although walk-ins will be welcomed.

Those interested in volunteering can call the restaurant to offer their assistance. Volunteers will work in shifts on Thanksgiving Day. The restaurant is also seeking monetary donations to defray the costs associated with offering this meal to the community.

To RSVP, donate, or volunteer, call the Iron Money at (201) 435-5756.

On Thanksgiving Day, the 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, and they can use volunteers. 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.

The Urban Mission Church (505 Newark Ave.) is looking for both volunteers and donations to help with its upcoming Thanksgiving Day dinner. Each year, the church opens its doors to feed the community and is currently in need of prepared foods, perishable items, and utensils. Specifically, the church is asking for donations of turkeys, stuffing, vegetables (string beans, mashed potatoes, etc.), beverage items (juice, milk, ground coffee, tea), desserts, paper plates, plastic utensils, napkins, and plastic cups.

The church is also looking for volunteers who can give a couple hours to help prepare or serve meals on Thanksgiving Day. To volunteer or to make a donation, contact April Kuzas at

Jersey City Homelessness Advocacy Group (JC-HAG) will pack Thanksgiving meals for homeless/needy persons from Vroom St. Chruch between 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. on Thursday, Nov. 28. "We will be distributing turkey meals all over the city to the homeless/needy people after 11a.m.", said President Esther Wintner. “Anyone who wants to volunteer or donate can email Riaz Wahid, founding member JC-HAG: or call (201) 669-7608. They are looking for donated cookies, pies, fruits (bananas, oranges), Styrofoam boxes, napkins, silver foils, forks, and plastic bags to pack.

CarePoint Health donated Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday, Nov. 21, to St. Anne’s Shelter in Jersey City from 4 to 6 p.m. They also will be donating food on Nov. 26 at the Hoboken Shelter from 4 to 6 p.m. They have donated blankets, hats, and socks to both places.


The Hoboken Homeless Shelter (300 Bloomfield St.) will offer a full day of activities and food for its clients on Thanksgiving Day. Two meals will be served. Lunch will be served at 2:30 p.m. and a traditional Thanksgiving dinner will be offered at 7 p.m. Between the two meals, a film will be shown at 4. Volunteers are welcome to work at the shelter in shifts that will run from noon until 8 p.m. The shelter is always in dire need of paper goods and utensils and this year is no different. Anyone who is willing can make a donation of plastic cups, utensils, plates, or napkins before Thanksgiving Day. Call (201) 656-5069 for more information.

Mario’s Pizza Café (742 Garden St.) will be offering free meals on Thanksgiving Day from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., as they did last year. Call (201) 659-0808 if you want to confirm, or get more details.

Union City The Palisades Emergency Residence Corporation (PERC) at 111 37 St. will host a free multicultural Thanksgiving dinner for its clients on Wednesday, Nov. 27 from 6 to 7 p.m. Last year, more than 200 attended this dinner, a number PERC expects to match in 2013, so donations and volunteers are both welcome and needed.

PERC is accepting donations of nonperishable food items and paper goods for its Thanksgiving dinner. Ambitious donors may want to give an entire turkey, which shelter volunteers can cook up for its guests next week.

In addition to items needed for its Thanksgiving dinner, PERC is also asking the community for monetary donations, as well as coats, jackets, gloves, and food for its ongoing food pantry. Donations can be dropped off at the shelter. For more information, please call (201) 348-8150 or visit

On Thursday, Nov. 28, the Brian Stack Civic Association will host Thanksgiving dinner at four different locations in Union City. The four locations include: Saint Anthony of Padua Parish at 615 8th St.; the Robert Waters School, at 2800 Summit Ave.; the North Hudson Islamic Education Center, at 4605 Cottage Pl.; and 501 15th St. At each location dinner will be served between noon and 2 p.m. All dinners are free of charge.

Anyone who wants to volunteer at any of these four locations is asked to arrive at the location of their choice at 11:30 a.m. The Civic Association can be reached at (201) 348-8338.

West New York

St. Joseph of the Palisades in West New York plans to distribute about 182 turkeys to its regular food pantry clients. These clients have been selected based on a lottery system and the church said it will not be able to accommodate additional donations.


The Secaucus Food Pantry expects to feed about 60 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.

The Secaucus Food Pantry has made donations to homeless groups in Jersey City and gave to several charities and shelters that helped Hudson County residents who were affected by Hurricane Sandy last year. Thus, your donations may help your neighbors even if you are not a Secaucus resident.


The town of Weehawken plans to distribute about 100 meals to elderly and homebound residents. To receive a dinner, residents must sign up and make a specific request to have a meal delivered. To do that, call (201) 319-6059.

North Bergen/Guttenberg

Woodcliff Community Church (7605 Palisade Ave. in North Bergen) will host a complimentary lunch for the community on Thursday, Nov. 28 beginning at noon. The meal will include turkey, ham, lasagna, rice, mashed potatoes, string beans, sweet potatoes, pumpkin pie, and apple pie. All are welcome.

“Myself and my wife, Angela Evertz, started this event five years ago, seeing a need in the community on Thanksgiving Day for a warm meal or a place to find someone to have lunch with on this special day of thanks,” said Efrain Evertz. “Seniors and homeless folks have seemed to be the majority part of the community that comes to have lunch. And to enjoy the fellowship.”

The Evertz said volunteers are welcome to help prepare and serve the meals. Volunteers will need to show up at 9 a.m., he said.

For more information, call (201) 936-7630.

The North Bergen Concerned Citizens will host a free Thanksgiving Celebration at the main ballroom at Schuetzen Park on Thanksgiving Eve, Wednesday, Nov. 27 at 7 p.m. It will have free food and dancing. Reservations are necessary. Call (201) 766-4108 or email


Re/Max holding annual turkey drive

As part of its ongoing “Caring for the Community” program, the Realtors and staff members of Re/Max Gold Coast Realty are getting into the holiday spirit and collecting food and funds for its upcoming fifth annual turkey dinner drive with the goal of feeding 100 families this year. Last year, the office put together 90 meals for area families in need with all the fixings, from the turkey to trimmings, spices to stuffing, and potatoes to pie. The firm was able to accomplish this with help from friends, family, local business owners and clients.

To ensure the 100 families this year receive the same complete Thanksgiving dinner, Re/Max created an easy-to-follow grocery list to make it easy for people wanting to take the time and actually do the shopping themselves. For people too busy to shop, financial donations are welcome and will be used to purchase as many additional Thanksgiving dinners as the money will buy.

Non-perishable food and/or donations can be dropped off at Re/Max Gold Coast Realty at 56 Newark St. in Hoboken between the hours of 10 a.m. and 8 p.m., Mondays through Fridays, or 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.

Donated turkeys (whole, frozen only, please) labeled “Re/Max Turkey Drive” can be dropped off on Monday, Nov. 25 at Pilsener Haus Biergarten, 1422 Grand St., in Hoboken.

Comments-icon Post a Comment
No Comments Yet