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HOLIDAY TRADITION

Watch now: No holiday plans? Here's where meals are available in McLean County

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Home Sweet Home employees are preparing for Thanksgiving dinner deliveries. READ MORE HERE.

BLOOMINGTON — Thanksgiving Day is a special one for Home Sweet Home Ministries.

The nonprofit, nondenominational Christian organization was founded on Thanksgiving Day in 1917.

“Thanksgiving has always held a very special place in our hearts,” said HSHM Development and Communications Manager Leslie Bunge. “We just love to be able to give back to people and help as many people that day. When you think of Thanksgiving Day, you think of sitting down with your family and friends and enjoying a nice meal, and so wherever we can help and give back so as many people can experience that, that’s what we love to do.”

The organization will be delivering nearly 600 meals across Bloomington-Normal and other areas of McLean County on Thanksgiving, particularly for those who are elderly or have difficulties with transportation or leaving their home.

111921-blm-loc-1freemeals

Home Sweet Home Ministries Food Services Manager Carol Schrenk, left, and Teresa Fowler, volunteer coordinator, prepare labels and materials on Wednesday for drivers who will deliver Thanksgiving Day meals to clients. About 50 drivers will take meals to 400 needy families across the Twin Cities on Thanksgiving Day.

A meal of turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, stuffing, green beans, “and then, of course, some pie” will be sent to up to 600 people.

People also can receive a free meal on Thanksgiving at the HSHM office at 303 E. Oakland Ave., Bloomington.

See below for a list of other free food options around McLean County.

“It was always our tradition to open our doors to everyone in the community on Thanksgiving Day, but just due to safety precautions we’re still not doing that right now,” Bunge said. “But those that still want something to eat, they can come to our shelter and receive a sack lunch through our front desk.”

There are no requirements to receive the free bagged food, which will likely consist of a sandwich, fruit and chips.

Free meals in Central Illinois

Where When
Pepper Ridge Elementary School, 2602 Danbury Drive, Bloomington Nov. 22, 3:30-5 p.m.
Home Sweet Home Ministries, 303 E. Oakland Ave., Bloomington Nov. 25 (Thanksgiving Day)
Abundant Life in Christ Church, 108 E. Market St., Bloomington Food pantry: Sunday & Wednesday at 1 p.m.; meals served Sunday-Friday at noon
Eastview Christian Church, 401 Union St., Bloomington Tuesdays, 1-3 p.m.; Wednesdays, 10 a.m.-noon & 5:30-7:30 p.m.
Mt. Pisgah Baptist Church, 801 W. Market St., Bloomington Wednesdays, 5-7 p.m.
The Pantry, 2812 Tractor Lane, Bloomington Saturdays, 9 a.m.-noon
Salvation Army, 611 W. Washington St., Bloomington Mondays & Wednesdays, 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
Center for Hope Food Pantry, 1308 E. Empire St., Bloomington Tuesdays, 9:30-11:30 a.m.
St. Vincent dePaul/Holy Trinity Conference Food Pantry, 705 N. Roosevelt Ave., Bloomington Mondays, 9 a.m.-noon & 1-4 p.m.
Helping Hands Food Pantry, 105 W. Boundary St., Stanford Saturdays, 10 a.m.-noon
Temba Food Pantry, 14940 Old Colonial Road, Bloomington Thursdays, 4:30-6:30 p.m.
Lincoln Logan Food Pantry, 125 N. Logan St., Lincoln Tuesdays, 9-11 a.m. & Thursdays, 2-4 p.m.
Normal Community West High School, 501 N. Parkside Road, Normal Dec. 11, 9:30-10:30 a.m.
Pepper Ridge Elementary School, 2602 Danbury Drive, Bloomington Dec. 16, 3:30-5 p.m.

HSHM did not deliver Thanksgiving meals or allow free meals in person last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead, it sent gift cards to hundreds of people who had received the Thanksgiving meals in the past.

Despite another change in plans this year because of the pandemic, the organization “still wanted to do something to give back to the community this year,” Bunge said. “We’re super excited this year to actually go and deliver meals to people.”

The organization also partners with the Midwest Food Bank each year to deliver Thanksgiving meals. This year, the two organizations will send 2,500 turkey dinners to McLean County residents.

111921-blm-loc-2freemeals

Home Sweet Home Ministries Food Services Manager Carol Schrenk on Wednesday prepared a food warmer bag that drivers will use as they deliver Thanksgiving Day meals to clients.

Residents can pick up meals from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday and from 4 to 6 p.m. Monday at Midwest Food Bank, 2031 Warehouse Road, Normal.

“We get calls constantly right after the event, ‘Oh, no, we missed it. What do we do?” said Midwest Food Bank Executive Director Tara Ingham. “So, we rely on the United Way Path hotline 211 and we tell people to call 211 to ask for their local pantry to see what resources are available around them.”

Tara Ingham

Ingham

Amanda Borden, development relations manager for the Eastern Illinois Food Bank, offered the same recommendation.

The Eastern Illinois Food Bank will set up a food mobile station at Pepper Ridge Elementary School in Bloomington from 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. Monday.

Borden said the organization provides food to local food pantries, where meals are available at various times throughout the week.

Watch now: In Normal, 2,500 turkey dinners ready for those in need

“Sometimes some of our agencies will be closed (on holidays), so we always advise people to call ahead and find out for sure because sometimes they’ll change their hours around the holidays,” Borden said.

Ingham added that if any of the 2,500 turkey dinners are left over, they will be sent to local food pantries.

“There’s a big stress on food around Thanksgiving, it’s the American way,” Ingham said, “so we like to be able to help provide that so all families can have a reason to say thanks during the Thanksgiving season.”


Contact Kade Heather at 309-820-3256. Follow him on Twitter: @kadeheather

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