Thanksgiving meals

Jon Andersen prepped turkey roasts for a previous Elks Thanksgiving dinner at the Mankato Salvation Army. This year the sit-down meal has been replaced by meals that will be delivered or picked up. The annual event is one of a couple in the community that collectively provide hundreds of free holiday meals each year. 


MANKATO — Two local long-standing Thanksgiving traditions will look a little different this year.

The First Presbyterian Church typically hosts an annual meal with St. John’s Episcopal Church, and the Mankato Elks Lodge serves free meals at the Salvation Army on Thanksgiving Day.

While COVID-19 is preventing community members from gathering in person to share a holiday dinner, these organizations are working to ensure people still can get a free meal this Thanksgiving. Other local businesses are also stepping up this year to help.

The First Presbyterian Church raised money to deliver free meals to families at Theresa House, Welcome Inn and Connections shelters.

The church is partnering with J.D. Truffles Catering to provide reheatable meals to families at these organizations on Thanksgiving Day.

Normally the church holds a community dinner where people can come for a free sit-down meal. Pastor Lindsay Conrad said they are sad they are not able to have the in-person dinner this year because it brings people in the community together, but they are glad to be able to still provide meals to others.

Last Thanksgiving the Elks Lodge provided about 350 meals to people in the community. The organization hosts a holiday dinner at the Salvation Army for community members to spend the day with others and enjoy a free meal.

This year the Elks Lodge is delivering meals and offering walk-up service. The organization teamed up with the Loose Moose Saloon to cook the meals. They are planning to provide more than 600 meals this time around. The organization was able to raise the money to provide more meals through fundraising.

On Thursday, Elk members will be bringing premade traditional meals to local organizations.

Beyond that, the Elks Lodge is also offering a pickup service from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. where people can come to the Loose Moose Saloon on Thanksgiving Day and get their free meals to go.

Even amid the pandemic, people are still stepping up to help prepare and distribute meals.

Dave Norris, former Elks president, said they have to be more cautious this year with volunteers due to the pandemic.

They are having to limit the number of people who can help, and volunteers must sign up for time slots, work shorter shifts and maintain COVID-19 guidelines, such as wearing a mask and social distancing while they are helping.

“We are trying to do it a little bit smarter,” he said.

Other local businesses and organizations also are working to provide free meals to the community on Thanksgiving. Sadaka’s Deli will be providing 260 free meals this year.

The new restaurant in the Madison East Center is still under construction and won’t open until next month, but Souraya and Milad Sadaka will be preparing meals for community members Thursday.

Souraya originally planned to offer more affordable Thanksgiving meals for $10 but decided to raise money to donate the meals after Dan Robinson, an agent for True Commercial Real Estate, offered to pay for 50 meals to go to people in need.

That got the ball rolling and numerous local businesses have since donated money to help.

Canvas Church and JP Fitness, also housed in the Madison East Center, stepped up to help by providing money and volunteering to help prepare and deliver food on Thanksgiving Day.

Volunteers had to be turned away because there were so many people willing to help with the effort.

Many of the meals will be distributed to people in hospice who may not be able to spend the day with loved ones.

“We want to make sure our purpose is that the people in need can get these meals,” Souraya said.

While the new business had to set a limit of 260 meals this year, the Sadakas are hoping to expand and offer more meals in the coming years. id=”blockColorblindContent”} {/div}

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