The cost of a traditional Thanksgiving meal may be up 6 percent this year, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation, but East Valley residents in need of some turkey, stuffing and mashed potatoes have somewhere to turn.
The Society of St. Vincent de Paul, a Christian charity group, will be serving more than 4,000 free dinners this season at its five Arizona dining rooms. That includes 300 Thanksgiving lunches from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at Mesa's Wayne Unruh Memorial Dining Room, 67 W. Broadway Road.
David Staudacher, group spokesman, said the aim is to feed the homeless, hungry and working poor, especially considering the current state of the economy.
"There's a lot of people living on the edge," he said. "People need hope."
The group, which has been serving meals in the Valley every day since 1952, is preparing more than 1,500 pounds of turkey, 1,000 pounds of mashed potatoes and stuffing, as well as copious amounts of gravy, cranberry sauce, corn and pumpkin pie.
Anyone can show up and partake in the banquet.
The volunteer spots are already filled, Staudacher said, but help will be needed even more so after the holiday season.
"Once January hits, the holidays are over," he said. "But homelessness is still here."