Salvation Army announces big changes to annual Thanksgiving feast amid pandemic

Posted at 6:04 PM, Nov 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-20 21:02:44-05

PHOENIX — As families scale back on Thanksgiving dinner plans, so are the organizers of what is considered the largest holiday meal gathering in the state. The annual Salvation Army Thanksgiving Day feast greets thousands of guests. Live entertainment, access to haircuts, manicures, clothing, hygiene items, and an area to settle in to watch football are all typically part of the big day.

This year, however, Salvation Army staff have had to re-organize the whole event due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The good news is, the meal has not been canceled, but guests should be prepared for some big changes.

This year, there will be no sit-down or dine-in option. This is being replaced with "fast track" to-go meals.

There will be two counters in the building to which people can come and walk-through. Lines will be socially distanced. Guests will leave with the traditional Thanksgiving Day fixings in two containers, a hot and cold one. Volunteers will be on hand to guide guests to the entrances.

Masks are required. Those who do not have one can get one courtesy of the Salvation Army. All staff, volunteers, and Salvation Army officers will be wearing proper personal protective equipment.

Guests also have the option of a contactless drive-thru meal pickup option in the South building loading dock of the Phoenix Convention Center that is off of 5th Street, beginning at 10 AM.

Volunteer delivery drivers will also gather at the loading docks to pick up meals for homebound individuals in the Valley. There has been a big increase in the number of people requesting home-delivered meals this year, according to Major David Yardley, program coordinator of the Metro Phoenix Salvation Army. Last year the agency served more than 2,700 home-bound meals. This year they have more than 4,000 requests for delivers.

The Salvation Army is still looking for volunteers who would be willing to spend a couple of hours of their morning on Thanksgiving Day, delivering meals to the homebound. Drivers will begin loading up their vehicles at 8 a.m. 75 meal delivery drivers are needed. Those who wish to volunteer can sign up HERE. Click on the Volunteer tab to sign up.