The Park Rapids Community Thank Meal will proceed differently this year, due to the pandemic.

Leah Quinn and Krista Johnson, co-chairs of the 38th annual event, announced that all meals will be either delivered or curbside pick-up on Thanksgiving Day. There will be no dining at Riverside United Methodist Church (RUMC).

“We really need volunteers for delivery drivers,” Quinn said. “That’ll be the main need this year.” To volunteer, call her at 218-252-4196.

The number of volunteers working inside the church is limited, again due to COVID-19.

Organizers say they’d like to focus on providing meals to those who are in need, such as an inability to afford to purchase food or being homebound.

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“There’s lot of different types of needs. Even if it’s just that you’re alone and you’d like a meal, that is a need,” Quinn said.

Turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes and gravy, sweet potatoes, green beans and buns will be delivered between 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day. Curbside pick-up will be conducted under the church awning between 12:30 and 2 p.m.

Arvig has donated a turkey hotline at 237-TRKY (8759) for volunteers to register and for the public to order meals. Hot meals will be delivered within a 15-mile radius of Park Rapids’ city limits. All take-out and delivery meals must be ordered by 1 p.m. Monday, Nov. 23.

“Meals do have to be pre-ordered because we definitely have to prepare food based on that. That’s going to be a big difference this year,” Quinn said.

For those who need their meal delivered, Quinn said there will be a concerted effort to make the exchange as contactless and safe as possible. Any special instructions may be left on the turkey hotline voicemail.

“Our apartment buildings have asked for a drop location, then they will pick up their own meals. For homes, we’ll ask if they want the box left on the front step,” Quinn said.

There is no charge for the Thanksgiving feast, but freewill offerings are welcome. Donations cover the grocery bill and advertising costs.

Typically, Quinn said, the main source of income for the Thank Meal has come from those eating onsite, so there is concern about raising enough funds to help pay for ingredients and supplies. For those who are able to donate money, Quinn said checks may be sent to RUMC, P.O. Box 128, Park Rapids, MN 56470. Net proceeds are distributed to local charities.

Homemade pies cannot be accepted this year; only store-bought pies may be donated.

“We did get significant donations for pies,” Quinn noted, including an anonymous business donor and Coborn’s Grocery Store.

Thank Meal tradition altered due to COVID-19