Where to find free Thanksgiving meals around Des Moines, central Iowa this November

As the holiday season approaches, need across the state of Iowa has never been higher.

On Nov. 1, The Des Moines Religious Council's network of food pantries broke the record for the number of individuals helped during a single day in the network's 46-year history — assisting 1,530 individuals across Polk County in a single day. Matt Unger, the CEO of DMARC, said he expects this November to be the busiest month in the network's history.

Organizations such as DMARC and Food Bank of Iowa are saying food and gasoline prices, coupled with the decrease in benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program in April, are likely the cause of the record amount of need across the state.

Local charities, places of worship and food pantries across the metro are planning Thanksgiving meal offerings to assist the many Iowans facing food insecurity and struggling to make ends meet ahead of the holiday season.

Here's a list of places where families can enjoy or pick up free Thanksgiving meals this November — make sure to watch out for registration details and fast approaching deadlines.

Parks Community Thanksgiving Dinner at Chuck's Restaurant

A holiday tradition since 1984, the Parks Community Thanksgiving Dinner helps provide meals to around 3,500 people at Chuck's Restaurant, located at 3610 Sixth Ave. in Des Moines. Pick-up meals will be available from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day, according to local nonprofit Every Step. Des Moines residents can also call 515-875-5229 by Nov. 23 at noon to set up meal deliveries. There are no reservations required for the in-person meal and no documentation or proof of income is needed to receive either an in-person and delivered meal.

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Hope Ministries

Hope Ministries is offering a free Thanksgiving meal to all those who are homeless, hungry or low income at their Hope Café, located at 1310 Sixth Ave. from noon to 1 p.m. No reservations or proof of income are required.

The organization is also offering an in-home meal delivery service to residents in the following cities: Altoona, Ankeny, Bondurant, Booneville, Carlisle, Cumming, Clive, Dallas Center, Des Moines, Granger, Grimes, Hartford, Indianola, Johnston, Martinsdale, Norwalk, Pleasant Hill, Polk City, Prole, Urbandale, Van Meter, Waukee and Windsor Heights.

Community members can reserve meals by calling 515-265-4277 or by visiting www.hopeiowa.org. The deadline to reserve meals was Wednesday, Nov. 16, at 4:30 p.m., though Hope Ministries spokesperson Kathy Coady said the organization is likely to hit capacity before then.

Eastside Cluster of Churches

The Eastside Cluster of Churches will offer meal deliveries to anyone within a 10-mile radius of St. Joseph's Catholic Church, 3300 Easton Blvd. Thanksgiving meal drive-through will be available from 11 a.m. to noon in the back parking lot of the church for other Polk County ZIP codes. Those wanting a meal delivery must reserve by Nov. 20 by calling 515-943-2519. The dining room will be open at noon Thanksgiving Day for anyone wanting a sit-down meal, and will be served in the St. Joseph Catholic School gymnasium.

Living Waters Fellowship

Living Waters Fellowship will host its fifth annual Thanksgiving Meal Giveaway on Saturday, Nov. 19 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The church, located at 3000 SE 22nd St., is planning to serve 1,000 meals and provide hats, gloves and coats for families in need, according to lead pastor Josh Daggett. No registration or documentation is required.

People can also request delivered meals by emailing office@livingwatersfellowship.org, Daggett said.

Waukee Christian Services

Registration for Waukee Christian Services' Thanksgiving boxed meals program has passed. However, the food pantry will be open the week of Thanksgiving for Dallas County residents. The pantry, located at 1155 SE Boone Dr. in Waukee, will be open Monday, Nov. 21 from noon to 6 p.m., and Tuesday and Wednesday, Nov. 22 and 23 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., according to executive director Melissa Stimple. No appointments are required and visitors only need to bring a photo ID, Stimple said.

More:Don't expect to pick up last-minute ingredients for Thanksgiving at Hy-Vee

West Des Moines Human Services

West Des Moines Human Services is offering $50 grocery food cards to residents of West Des Moines. Residents must register at www.wdm.iowa.gov by Nov. 17.

Eligibility is restricted to those who are 200% or below the federal poverty guidelines.

Urbandale Food Pantry

The Urbandale Food Pantry, located at 7611 Douglas Ave., Suite 34 in Des Moines, is offering whole turkeys and turkey breasts for the entire month of November to help families make a special Thanksgiving meal. The DMARC-affiliated pantry is open from 9:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturdays. The pantry is open to anyone, as long as they have not used another DMARC food pantry in the same month.

For information on more programs available throughout the holiday season, visit Every Step's Winter Assistance Resources Page at www.everystep.org.

Wisco Grub & Pub

Head to this restaurant near Merle Hay Mall for a free Thanksgiving dinner starting at 4 p.m. until it's gone. The restaurant that specializes in Wisconsin foods also serves a limited menu starting at 11 a.m.

Wisco Grub & Pub, 3015 Merle Hay Road, Des Moines

Portofino’s Italian Restaurant

This Italian restaurant in Ankeny serves a free turkey dinner with stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, green bean casserole and more from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Thanksgiving.

Portofino’s Italian Restaurant, 711 S. Ankeny Blvd., Ankeny

Editor's Note: A previous version of this article contained an incorrect address for Chuck's Restaurant and the Parks Community Thanksgiving Dinner. The correct address is 3610 Sixth Ave. in Des Moines.

Francesca Block is a breaking news reporter at the Des Moines Register. Reach her at FBlock@registermedia.com or on Twitter at @francescablock3.

This article originally appeared on Des Moines Register: Free Thanksgiving 2022 meals offered in Des Moines, central Iowa