Grand Forks Senior Center is hosting its annual Christmas Feast as a drive-thru event from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Dec. 15, at the Alerus Center.

Tickets, which are required, are available by calling the Senior Center at (701) 772-7245. The caller will be asked for the full name and birthdate for each person who would like a meal.

The meals are being provided for people who are 60 years and older, and their spouses of any age. The deadline for requesting tickets is Dec 4, but seniors may call after that date to see if any tickets are still available.

The Senior Center suggests a contribution of $5 per dinner. A contribution envelope is mailed with the ticket. Those who wish to contribute are asked to enclose cash or a check in the envelope and give that, along with the ticket, to the drive-thru attendant.

“It’s a tradition at the Grand Forks Senior Center to celebrate holiday meals with our seniors about a week and a half before the actual holiday,” said Jami Schumacher, public relations manager for the facility. “We do this for Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter.”

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This will be the second time the Senior Center is having the Christmas Feast at the Alerus Center, but this is the first time it will be a drive-thru event, Schumacher said.

“Due to the popularity of this year’s Drive-thru Thanksgiving Feast at the Alerus Center, we are planning for another crowd of 800 at the Christmas Feast,” she said. “We sold out for the Thanksgiving Feast about two weeks before the drive-thru event,” which was set for Tuesday, Nov. 17.

At the Christmas Feast drive-thru, “you can pick up meals for family members, friends and neighbors, as long as you have their tickets,” Schumacher said.

Guests should enter the south parking lot at the Alerus Center from 42nd Street, and watch for signs or people directing traffic. Guests will drive up to the building, hand in tickets and receive meals through the vehicle’s back window.

Seniors from the region are welcome to participate in the Christmas Feast drive-thru event, Schumacher said. “We invite seniors from the region to attend our holiday meals, and this year is no exception. It’s fun to get seniors from Oslo, Warsaw, Thompson, Larimore, Fisher as well as Grand Forks and East Grand Forks.”

The Grand Forks Senior Center’s holiday meals – Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas – have become so popular they’ve been moved to the Alerus Center in recent years. This year, the drive-thru event was planned in response to the health threat – especially to seniors and those with underlying health issues – posed by the coronavirus.

The drive-thru strategy is also necessary since the Senior Center kitchen and number of staff members are too small to make and distribute 800 meals, Schumacher said.

“Partnering with the Alerus Center on these annual meals has been great,” she said. “They have a great staff and terrific food.”

“More than any other year before, it’s important to all of us at the Grand Forks Senior Center to make sure seniors in our area get a Christmas meal,” Schumacher said. “And what sounds better than a Swedish meatball and mashed potato dinner, finished off with lemon meringue pie?”