A number of businesses and organizations throughout Northwest Montana offer free Thanksgiving meals, embodying the holiday season’s giving spirit.
Further reflecting that spirit are the area’s food banks, which are conducting their annual holiday drives to make sure people in need have access to the fixings for Thanksgiving and Christmas feasts.
The Flathead Food Bank recently announced that Kalispell Noon Rotary raised $1,068 to purchase turkeys and canned yams from Super 1 Foods. The Rotary delivered 60 turkeys to Flathead Food Bank and 20 to the Northwest Montana Veterans Food Pantry.
Also, the Flathead Building Association teamed up again this year with the Kalispell Downtown Association and Super 1 Foods to donate more than $4,000 to the Flathead Food Bank for Thanksgiving dinners. Altogether, donations from the drive will fund 139 turkey dinners, enough to feed at least 556 people.
The building association and downtown association partnered on the food drive, calling it a friendly holiday contest in which local businesses “compete” with their donations. Super 1 Foods organizes the meals and leverages their holiday specials to make the donations go as far as possible, and the food bank will distribute the meals in time for Thanksgiving.
Jamie Quinn, executive director of the Flathead Food Bank, said while “we always need turkeys,” other items for Thanksgiving and Christmas meals are greatly appreciated as well, including yams, olives, hams, apple cider, hot cocoa, various canned foods and more.
“The things people don’t always think about — that type of stuff is always a big hit with our customers,” Quinn said.
Quinn notes that the food bank accepts donations that could be used for Thanksgiving and Christmas year round, not just during the holiday drive. If a turkey arrives in July, the food bank can freeze it for the holiday season.
“The reality is that we’ll be happy to take their donations whenever,” she said.
Below is a roundup of free Thanksgiving meals and food banks around Northwest Montana. If you’re looking for a way to contribute to a holiday meal for a family in need, please contact or drop by your local food bank.
*Editor’s Note: Local nonprofits are celebrating national “Giving Tuesday” on Nov. 27. See the Small Business Saturday article on page 34 of this week’s print edition for more information.
Flathead Food Bank, 1203 U.S. Highway 2 West, Suite 2, Kalispell: (406) 752-3663, www.flatheadfoodbank.com
-Kalispell Pantry and Main Office, 1203 U.S. Highway 2 West, Suite 2, Kalispell: (406) 752-3663, www.flatheadfoodbank.com
-Marion Mobile Pantry, First Baptist Church 180 Pleasant Valley Road, Marion (10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. second and fourth Wednesdays every month)
-Kila Mobile Pantry, Kila Country Church, 150 Cottage Lane, Kila (9 to 10 a.m. second and fourth Wednesdays every month)
-Canyon Mobile Pantry, Martin City Fire Department, Martin City (10 a.m. to 12 p.m. first and third Wednesdays every month)
North Valley Food Bank, 251 Flathead Avenue, Whitefish: (406) 862-5863, www.northvalleyfoodbank.com
-The annual Whitefish Turkey Trot 5K benefits the North Valley Food Bank. Early registration is $12 through www.runsignup.com or $15 on the day of the race, which begins at 9 a.m. at the food bank. Runners are asked to bring non-perishable food items to the race.
Columbia Falls Food Bank, 82 Railroad Street East, Columbia Falls: (406) 892-0241
Bigfork Food Bank, 7535 Montana Highway 35, Bigfork: (406) 837-2297, www.bigforkfoodbank.com
West Shore Food Bank, 140 Bills Road, Lakeside: (406) 844-2779, www.westshorefoodbank.com
Northwest Montana Veterans Food Pantry, 1349 U.S. Highway 2 East, Evergreen: (406) 756-7304, www.veteransfoodpantry.org
Polson Loaves & Fish Pantry, 904 1st Street East, Polson: (406) 883-6864
Tobacco Valley Food Pantry and Thrift Store, 109 Dewey Avenue, Eureka: (406) 297-2358
Libby Food Pantry, 700 Idaho Avenue, Libby: (406) 293-3332
Free Thanksgiving Meals
Sykes Diner, Kalispell: Anyone is welcome to show up between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. for this annual free meal. Call (406) 257-4304 for more information.
Pocketstone Café, Bigfork: The café is hosting its eighth annual free community dinner, with seatings at 11 a.m., 12:15 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. The café requests that people call (406) 837-7223 to make reservations due to limited seating. There is no charge, although a donation jar will be available, with contributions going to the Bigfork Food Bank.
Polson Senior Center, Polson: This annual free dinner is open to everybody and runs from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Transportation is provided for those who need it, and meals for delivery are also available. Donations are welcome. Call (406) 883-4735 for more information.
F.O.E. North Valley Eagles #4081, Columbia Falls: The meal costs $5 this year and runs from 1 to 5 p.m. Anyone interested is encouraged to call (406) 892-4081 to sign up.
Calvary Lutheran Church, Evergreen: This free community dinner is a non-denominational celebration open to all and free of charge. It begins at 2 p.m. Call (406) 752-4102 for more information.
Family Life Christian Church, Kalispell: The church is organizing freshly prepared Thanksgiving meals for delivery or pickup from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Call (406) 257-9315 to sign up for a meal or for more information.
Ronan Community Center, Ronan: This annual event draws large crowds each year and features live music in addition to the free meal. Organizers are looking for volunteers to serve food. Those interested in donating food should call (406) 253-9029, and those interested in volunteering should call (406) 253-8908.
VFW Post No. 1548, Libby: Anyone is welcome to attend this free community meal, which runs from 2 to 4 p.m. and is sponsored by Libby area churches. Call (406) 293-3705 or (406) 293-7866 in advance if you need a ride, want home delivery or would like to sign up to help or donate. Take-out meals are also available. On Thanksgiving Day, call (406) 291-6963 for questions.