Cape Coral residents who are looking to enjoy Thanksgiving in the company of others or who are just in need of a good meal on the holiday will have their choice of options this Thanksgiving Day.
One Cape restaurant is continuing its traditional of free meals for those looking for companionship and the Elks Lodge is again offering a free dinner provided by volunteers.
Meanwhile, Community Cooperative Ministries Inc. is offering options: Its soup kitchen in Fort Myers will provide Thanksgiving lunches to those in need, Meals on Wheels will bring the holiday to shut-ins and a south county restaurant has paired up with the charity to provide traditional fare to families that have contacted the charity in advance of the holiday.
Andrew Kostera and Allison Shaw join their kindergarten classmates at St. Andrew Catholic School in a feast celebrating Thanksgiving Monday. The food, prepared by volunteer parents, also included butter made by the students. As schools in the Cape gave students an early taste of the holiday, some organizations got into a Thanksgiving mode by preparing for Thursday’s holiday by lining up volunteers and begining preparations for free feasts.
According to Debra Almeida, COO for CCMI, the agency is seeing a substantial increase in the need for emergency food this holiday.
"Normally, we give out between five to seven vouchers per day this time of year," she said in a prepared statement released Monday. "Friday we gave out 34 vouchers and 2,245 pounds of food in just one day."
Those providing free Thanksgiving Day meals include:
n The Cape Coral Elks Lodge will provide traditional meals from noon to 4 p.m.
"It is the same dinner we had last year. Everything has been donated, work is done by volunteers," said Jim Purin, leading knight at the Cape Coral lodge. "The Elks Lodge has been kind enough to donate the facility."
Last year, 520 people attended the meal, including 375 walk-ins, 79 veterans, 39 homeless persons and 29 women.
The lodge is located at 4631 S.E. 10th Place.
n The Paradise Tiki Hut on 1502 Miramar Street will provide free Thanksgiving meals from 1-6 p.m. The meals are sponsored by The Associates and Bruce L. Scheiner, Personal Injury Attorneys, P.A.
General Manager Cindy Roepke said they expect about 500 people on Thanksgiving day.
"People who don't have families or who don't have the means or anyone to eat with," she said.
There will also be live entertainment from local band Angie and the Perfect Gentleman.
Meanwhile, CCMI offers three options, including:
n Soup Kitchen: CCMI's Soup Kitchen, 3429 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd., will serve a traditional Thanksgiving meal from 11 a.m. to noon. The meal will be prepared and served by an all-volunteer staff. Everyone is eligible to have access to this free meal.
n Meals on Wheels: CCMI's Meals on Wheels drivers will deliver more than 400 traditional holiday meals to the homebound across Lee County on Thursday. Drivers and delivery trucks will begin picking up the meals at 8:30 a.m. and meals will be delivered to Meals on Wheels recipients beginning at 10:30 a.m.
n LongHorn Steakhouse: LongHorn Steakhouse is opening one restaurant in south Fort Myers on Thursday, specifically to feed local families who are struggling to afford a nutritious holiday meal this Thanksgiving.
The restaurant seats 215 guests per seating and each guest will receive a full-service holiday dinner including turkey, stuffing, potatoes, green beans and pumpkin pie and more. LongHorn Steakhouse management and staff will be volunteering their time for this Thanksgiving event.
LongHorn has been working with CCMI to identity eligible families for this holiday meal. CCMI's Family Services Department works with families to help provide emergency groceries and social services as well as assistance with food stamps and tax programs.
Eligible families will be admitted by ticket only. The meal will not be open to the general public or for walk-ins.
For more information, contact CCMI at 332-7687.