Preparing for a different kind of Thanksgiving this year

Thanksgiving table with COVID masks

As Americans get ready for Thanksgiving this year, many are facing a very different kind of holiday. The COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread, posing serious safety concerns for in-person gatherings, and millions of people across the country are newly facing food insecurity due to the economic effects of the pandemic; as Greater Clevelanders navigate these concerns, we are thankful for the organizations and groups – locally and nationally – offering resources and guidance to help.

Staying safe

As COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths continue to rise across our state and country, public health experts are warning Americans to re-think their normal holiday plans. It only takes one person to create a domino effect of COVID-19 cases in the community, so it’s vital that we all take appropriate safety measures such as wearing a mask, washing our hands often and maintaining six feet of distance from others. If you have been exposed to the coronavirus, be sure to get tested; find testing information and locations here. You can find additional guidance on holiday safety from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) here and the Ohio Department of Health here. Also, be sure to follow announcements and guidance from your county public health agency:

Putting food on the table

Many Greater Clevelanders are struggling to put food on the table in the midst of the pandemic. Thankfully, local food banks are stepping up to meet this unprecedented need. If you or someone you know needs help, please contact your local food bank or directory to learn about available programs and resources:

Find charities that are serving drive-through and to-go meals for the holiday here

In addition, a number of community and neighborhood-based groups are regularly distributing food and other resources to residents in need; these are just a few:

United Way 2-1-1 can help to connect individuals and families with food and other supports to meet their basic needs. Visit or dial 2-1-1 for more information.

Are you aware of a resource not listed here? Please share in the comment section below!

Reframing the Thanksgiving narrative

There is plenty to celebrate about the idea of gathering with loved ones to share a meal and practice gratitude, but false narratives around the Thanksgiving holiday’s origins are damaging. For those looking to better understand and reframe these narratives, organizations like the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Teaching Tolerance project offer resources.

Recognizing the rich ancestry and traditions of indigenous communities in America, November is National Native American Heritage Month. If you’re looking for a way to celebrate, check out the work of Anisfield-Wolf Book Award winning Native American writers N. Scott Momaday, Vine Deloria Jr., Louise Erdrich, and Tommy Orange. In case you missed it, find a recap and video of Tommy Orange’s 2019 Cleveland Book Week event, hosted in partnership with the Lake Erie Native American Council, here. In Northeast Ohio, groups like the Lake Erie Native American Council work year-round to preserve, maintain and promote Native American and Indigenous culture. Consider supporting their work!

As we enter a different kind of holiday season this year, the Cleveland Foundation wishes you and your loved ones health, wellbeing and hope for a brighter future ahead.