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Where to get a Thanksgiving meal if you need a hand (or how you can help others)

There are places around the state offering a free Thanksgiving meal to anyone who needs it.

One out of every 10 people in Minnesota will have trouble getting a holiday meal on their table this year.

That's according to Second Harvest Heartland, one of the organizations in the state that works to address hunger and food insecurity.

The food bank (which is one of the largest in the country) has a list of ways you can help – whether it's buying a treat through Cookies for a Cause, taking part in the Walk to End Hunger Thanksgiving morning, or adding one of those extra donation bags to your grocery store run (here's a list of participating stores).

You could also volunteer to serve meals or deliver meals through Open Arms of Minnesota.

Where to get a free meal

If you're in a position where you need help, there are some opportunities to get free Thanksgiving meals this week.

The Salvation Army is hosting more than a dozen, free, open-to-the-public Turkey Day meals across the state.

There are five Salvation Army locations in Minnesota serving an early holiday meal Wednesday: In Albert Lea, Hibbing, Virginia and St. Paul

And on Thanksgiving day, there will be four spots in the Twin Cities (some of which Blue Door Pub and Baker's Square are helping with):

And another seven spots in greater Minnesota:

Minnesota Hunger Initiative says Meals on Wheels is available to anyone on Thanksgiving who needs it. Get more info on that here.

Hunger in America

In the United States, about one in every eight people (totaling 48 million or so) are considered food insecure – meaning a lack of access to food, or being uncertain where their next meal will come from, Feeding America says.

Compared to the rest of the country, Minnesota is generally on the lower end for food insecurity – but it's still anywhere from about 8 to 12 percent, depending on the county.

Some of the families who struggle buy the cheapest options possible – even if it's less healthy – just so they can provide enough food, the organization says. And some have also had to make the choice between paying for a Thanksgiving meal, and paying utility bills on time.

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