Love: The Special Ingredient

Food. Breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. Food brings families and friends together. It’s the hallmark of parties, celebrations, small gatherings and holidays. And usually the signature ingredient in our meals is love.

Food and love are intertwined from the moment we are born. We are fed by our mothers as infants and studies show that time is essential for parent-child bonding. Families spend time making special food items and meals during holiday seasons and honored fast days. After a kiss and a band-aid, a favorite meal is the fastest way to heal a cut or scrape. Food is love.

Food takes time and energy. Love takes time and energy. Giving of your time and energy to make a snack for a child after school or a bowl of soup for a sick friend is a non-verbal way of letting them know they are loved.

Part of The Salvation Army’s mission is to bring love and compassion to those who are lost, broken and hopeless. Through a variety of food programs – pantries, home-delivered meals for seniors, Christmas food boxes, homeless feeding and holiday meals – the Army spreads love.


On Thanksgiving, The Salvation Army serves a full turkey dinner to thousands of families throughout Chicago and the suburbs. In West Humboldt Park, the Salvation Army Freedom Center and Levy Restaurant Group are providing a one-of-a-kind meal prepared by Levy staff. In Engelwood, the Red Shield Center has partnered with the Cheesecake Factory to serve a gourmet turkey dinner. Corps community centers in Chicago’s Mayfair, Midway, and Roseland neighborhoods and the suburban communities of Evanston, Blue Island, DeKalb, Belvidere and East Chicago will also be providing Thanksgiving dinner.


In addition to serving dinner at the corps community centers with help from partners like Levy Restaurant Group and the Cheesecake Factory, the Army will also be bringing turkey dinners to those in Chicago who are homeless. The Salvation Army’s mobile feeding and homeless outreach unit will be making nearly 20 stops around Chicago to provide a full Thanksgiving dinner experience to those who would normally go without.

For families who prefer to prepare a Thanksgiving dinner in their own home, at least 10 corps community centers are providing a Thanksgiving basket with turkey and all the trimmings. This allows the families to show love to those who are close to them.

While the food is delicious, warm and satisfying, sometimes the food isn’t the most important thing. What is often more important than the actual protein, vegetable and starch on the plate is the fact that someone gave of their time to hand out a meal – especially on a holiday. This is called the ministry of presence. And presence is love.