Nov. 18—They'll still be offering to-go plates, but local groups that provide free Thanksgiving meals will also be offering sit-down dining for the first time in three years.
"We'll have to-go plates out front for those who want them," said Providence Ministries founder and President Roy Johnson. "But we will also have space for those who wish to sit down and eat."
Providence Ministries, the Concerned Citizens of Dalton and Harvest Outreach will all host free Thanksgiving meals — turkey and dressing and sides — for the community as each has done for many years on Thursday. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, each served meals to-go only in 2020 and 2021.
Concerned Citizens will serve its 19th annual Thanksgiving dinner at the Mack Gaston Community Center, 218 N. Fredrick St. in Dalton.
"The volunteers are going to start gathering about 8 or 9 a.m.," said Community Center Director Tom Pinson. "The meals will be served 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. or when we run out. We usually serve 250 to 300 meals. We'll still be doing takeout. But there will be some room inside for dining."
Harvest Outreach offers a Thanksgiving meal from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at American Legion Post 112, 1118 N. Glenwood Ave. in Dalton.
Harvest Outreach Executive Director Shelia Reed said this will be the 36th year the organization has presented the meal.
She said there will be some room outside for people to sit down and eat. She said she hopes to have some singers to perform for those who dine at the American Legion site.
The organization typically serves about 500 meals but Reed said that was down slightly last year.
Providence Ministries offers its Thanksgiving meal from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at 711 S. Hamilton St. in Dalton.
Johnson said the ministry has been serving Thanksgiving meals for about 30 years.
"We'll serve about 600 to 800 people Thursday," said Johnson. "That's about average for us, and it really didn't change much the last couple of years."
Johnson said those who wish to volunteer should show up around 9:30 or 10 a.m.
The representatives of all three groups said they welcome any volunteers who want to help serve the meals.
Johnson said inflation has driven the costs of providing the meal up.
"Turkeys especially seem to have gone up," he said. "Our turkey donations are down. We could always use more. If people can donate a turkey, or a ham, or the money to buy them, we'd really appreciate it."
Johnson said he believes Providence will have enough to serve everyone who comes on Thursday.