Five years ago I worked for a non-profit that supported families in the greater Milwaukee area and when Thanksgiving came around there was discussion around Thanksgiving meals and where our clients could access some. Which led to looking around and at the time, finding several locations that wanted to help the community (not just on the holidays, but year-round).
Each year, I’ve tried to compile a list to make the information easier to find and when the pandemic hit, there were just as many resources out there, several restaurants and businesses stepping up to help. This year I want to try to get the information out there earlier and provide a more robust list, more than just free Thanksgiving meals, but ways to give back if you’re able and desire to do so.
You don’t have to be homeless, low-income or anything else to want to be around your community for Thanksgiving – the holiday is about bringing people together. If you’d otherwise be alone for the holiday, many of these locations would be happy to have you.
You never know who in your life may need a little extra support this time of year. Please help get the word out about free Thanksgiving meals in Southeastern Wisconsin so no one has to spend the holiday alone.
- Feeding America has pantries and meal programs available across the nation, but locally, their Eastern Wisconsin division serves our community with several resources.
- Salvation Army is another large organization with several food pantries – find a location within Milwaukee County (or beyond).
- Hunger Task Force serves the Milwaukee area with its food bank and resources.
- Riverwest Food Pantry is also working to relieve hunger and improve lives with the support of the community.
There are even more food pantries listed in this article by OnMilwaukee.
Free Thanksgiving Meals
- Wednesday, November 24 (5 to 6 p.m.) at Jefferson High School (700 W Milwaukee St, Jefferson, WI 53549)
- Drive-up/Carryout only – RSVP at 920.675.1149 or JHSBASIC@gmail.com
- Wednesday, November 24 (5 to 6:15 p.m.) at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church (301 S High St, Fort Atkinson, WI 53538)
- Thursday, November 25 (10 to 11 a.m.) at First United Methodist Church (919 60th St, Kenosha, WI 53140)
- Congregation members and community residents can RSVP at 262.496.0648
- Thursday, November 25 (beginning at 11 a.m.) at Milwaukee Rescue Mission (830 N 19th St, Milwaukee, WI 53233)
- RSVP before Nov 25 at either email@example.com or 414.344.2211
- Bagged lunches will be available for day-of arrivals
- Thursday, November 25 (Noon to 1 p.m.) at St. Vincent de Paul Society-Northside (2600 N 2nd St, Milwaukee, WI 53212)
- Thursday, November 25 (Noon to 1 p.m.) at St. Vincent de Paul Society-Southside (931 W Madison St, Milwaukee, WI 53204)
- Thursday, November 25 (Noon to 3 p.m.) at Heated Tent (N 35th St + W Center St, Milwaukee, WI 53210)
- Hosted by County Supervisor Sequanna Taylor, Dream Team United MKE, and Parklawn Assembly of God
- Thursday, November 25 (2 to 3:30 p.m.) at St. Benedict the Moor (930 W State St, Milwaukee, WI 53233)
- Thursday, November 25 (beginning at 4 p.m.) at The Standard Tavern (1754 N Franklin Pl, Milwaukee, WI 53202)
- Thursday, November 25 (10 a.m. to 1 p.m.) at Festival Hall (5 Fifth St, Racine, WI 53403)
- Sit-down dinner or carryout meals will be available
- Thursday, November 25 (11 a.m. to 2 p.m.) at Hawk’s View Golf Club (7377 Krueger Rd, Lake Geneva, WI 53147)
- pickup only
- Thursday, November 25 (11 a.m. to 1 p.m.) at Faith Lutheran Church (W172N11187 Division Rd, Germantown, WI 53022)
- RSVP at 262.628.1155
- Thursday, November 25 (11 a.m. to 1 p.m.) at St. Mary’s Immaculate Conception Church (406 Jefferson St, West Bend, WI 53090)
- RSVP at 504.351.4655
- Thursday, November 25 (11 a.m. to 1 p.m.) at St. Michael’s Church (8883 Forest View Rd, Kewaskum, WI 53040)
- RSVP at 262.388.9710
- Thursday, November 25 (11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.) at Waukesha Salvation Army (445 Madison Ave, Waukesha, WI 53188)
- Thanksgiving meals will be served ‘to go’ due to COVID-19 restrictions
Volunteer / Donate
- American Red Cross of Wisconsin provides hot meals to those in need, among many other services for the community.
- Aurora Health Care is specifically working to provide families with healthy, home-cooked Thanksgiving meals with the help of volunteers and donations for their ‘Family to Family Thanksgiving’ efforts.
- Capuchin Community Services is accepting in-kind donations of nonperishable food items, clothing, and hygiene items at both of their locations.
- Hope Hope has several volunteer opportunities, including food pantry assistants operated by Friedens Community Ministry, Inc.
- Milwaukee Rescue Mission there are many ways you can volunteer your time to support their guests, including serving a meal.
- St. Vincent de Paul Society of Milwaukee is looking for volunteers for their meal program which provides hot nutritious meals to children and adults.
- Street Angels Milwaukee Outreach provides basic necessities to those in need, including meals throughout the day.
- United Way Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County supports an abundant amount of organizations that are frequently looking for volunteers!
- Friday, November 19, 2021 (5 a.m. to 6 p.m.): CBS 58 Thanksgiving Drive-Thru Food Drive at American Family Field (1 Brewers Way, Milwaukee, WI 53214) supporting Hunger Task Force.
- Wednesday, November 24 (6 a.m. to 6 p.m.): 99.1 The Mix’s Stuff the [Virtual] Bus supporting Feeding America Southeastern Wisconsin. They’re accepting online donations.
While donating food and volunteering your time is top-of-mind around the holidays, don’t forget these organizations and causes that could use your support year-round. Consider helping out outside of Thanksgiving too. If there is more I should add to the sections above – especially for free Thanksgiving meals – please direct message me on social media at @JMattMke (TikTok, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, or Snapchat)!