Hungry or want to help?
Where to get a free meal, donate, or volunteer for Thanksgiving
by by E. Assata Wright
Reporter Staff Writer
Nov 27, 2013 | 5205 views | 0 0 comments | 117 117 recommendations | email to a friend | print
THANKS! – Many places in Hudson County will offer free meals to those in need.
THANKS! – Many places in Hudson County will offer free meals to those in need.
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


Reservations are available for a community Thanksgiving dinner to be sponsored by the Bayonne Chapter of UNICO National, BCB Community Bank, and the Bayonne Economic Opportunity Foundation (BEOF). The dinner is for those Bayonne individuals and families who do not have anywhere to go for the holiday. The dinner will take place on Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, November 28, from 11:30 a.m. until 1:30 p.m., at Back Bay Gardens, 535 Avenue A. Tickets are required for this dinner, so that the organizers can provide the appropriate amount of food. There is no charge for the tickets.

Mayor Mark A. Smith said, “I would like to thank BCB Community Bank for joining UNICO and the BEOF in hosting this great Thanksgiving event. This dinner is a sign of Bayonne’s generosity in the Thanksgiving season.” He continued, “All residents should be proud that the Bayonne Chapter of UNICO, the BEOF, and BCB Community Bank respond to genuine and continuing community needs each year. We should all thank the BEOF staff, the UNICO members, and BCB Community Bank for providing this outstanding community service.”

Mayor Smith, Assemblyman Jason O’Donnell, and Council Members will join other community volunteers to serve food at the event.

Tickets will be available at the BEOF’s main office at 555 Kennedy Boulevard, and at the nutritional programs at 535 Avenue A and 16 West 4th Street. For information, please call Lori at the BEOF at (201) 437-7222, extension 13.

Mike Masone of UNICO will serve as Head Chef.

The BEOF is Bayonne’s community action agency. UNICO is a nonprofit service organization associated with the Italian-American community. BCB Community Bank is headquartered in Bayonne, and has branches in Bayonne, Freehold, Hoboken, Jersey City, Monroe, Woodbridge, and South Orange.

A few Thanksgiving things

Salvation Army will host its annual community Thanksgiving dinner on Wednesday, November 27 from 6-8 p.m. For more information, call (201) 435-7355.

Friendship Baptist Church, 41 West 20th Street, Bayonne, will serve Thanksgiving dinner, November 28, noon to 4 p.m. Dinner is free and open to all. For transportation information or if in need of a delivered dinner, call (201) 779-2745.

Jersey City

St. John the Baptist in Jersey City will be hosting a hot turkey dinner on Nov. 28. St. John’s/Golden Doors School Auditorium is located at 3026 Kennedy Boulevard. The entrance is on Huron Avenue three blocks north of Journal Square. Seating is at 11:30 a.m., noon, and 12:30 p.m. Food will be served until 1 p.m. For more information call 201-438-0741

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