Giving and Sharing

Where to find a free Thanksgiving meal, and what kind of donations are needed at Flathead Valley food banks during the holidays

By Molly Priddy
Bigfork Food Bank. Beacon File Photo

Though the holidays seem to be approaching faster than you can say “cornucopia,” there is still time to make plans for Thanksgiving, taking place on Nov. 26.

Yes, Thanksgiving is a time for community, but that’s about as far as the definition has to go. Perhaps you are someone who just happens to be in town on a Thursday in November and you’ve got no one to eat with, or maybe you just don’t want to prepare all the fixings yourself.

Several locations around the Flathead and Mission valleys will offer free Thanksgiving meals to those who would like to eat them.

In Kalispell, Sykes Diner continues its tradition of serving a free holiday meal; the event is so popular that they serve about 1,000 annually. Roughly 250 to 300 of those meals are delivered, and delivery requests are taken up to Nov. 24, which is the Tuesday before Thanksgiving.

To request delivery, call 406-257-4304.

The meal runs from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., and eaters will enjoy an array of the traditional Thanksgiving fare, with turkey, ham, potatoes of many fashions, pie, and, of course, fellowship.

In Bigfork, head to the Pocketstone Café for a sit-down meal in what has become an annual tradition on Thanksgiving. The free meal features three seating times – 11 a.m., 12:15 p.m., and 1:30 p.m. Reservations are required, and most of the seating was already full as of Nov. 16, but names can be added to the waiting list. The folks at the Pocketstone said there are usually enough cancelations to feed most of the waiting list.

Call 406-837-7223 for more information.

The Polson Senior Citizens’ Center will host a Thanksgiving meal from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The public is welcome to join in the fun; the event is free, though donations are gratefully accepted. Anyone who needs a ride to the dinner should call 406-883-4735 before Nov. 25 at 3 p.m. Similarly, anyone who would like to place a home delivery order can call that same number.

And in Ronan, the Ronan Area Chamber of Commerce will once again host a free Thanksgiving dinner at the Ronan Community Center, located at 300 Third Ave. NW. The dinner runs from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

For those who already have Thanksgiving dinner plans squared away, consider the needs of the valley’s food banks. At the Flathead Food Bank, which has branches throughout the valley, executive director Lori Botkin said she’s looking for more volunteers to help out feeding 1,200 families on Thanksgiving.

Botkin also said it’s the time of year for turkeys and other Thanksgiving fixings, but the food bank is set on cranberries and stuffing for this holiday. Other needs include canned vegetables – yams, especially – pumpkin pie mix, and black olives.

Otherwise, people need food every day, Botkin said, so regular grocery items are always welcome. And because the food bank has buying power, monetary donations can go much further in its hands than for most donors, she said.

Immediately after the Thanksgiving meals end, the food bank starts preparing for Christmas, Botkin said, so donations are welcome even when Turkey Day is over.

For more information on the Flathead Food Bank and its many branches, visit www.flatheadfoodbank.com or call 406-762-3663.

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