A Thanksgiving tradition looks very different this year. Instead of packing a ballroom, people on the street are fed a Thanksgiving dinner.

SCRANTON, Pennsylvania – For the 45th straight year, Friends of the Poor is cooking thousands of turkey meals for people in need on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, but for the second straight year the pandemic is changing the way those meals are prepared and distributed.

Instead of family style, it was drive-through style for the Friends of the Poor’s annual Thanksgiving dinner with long lines of cars and lots of to-go boxes.

“I’m glad they still do it. I’m so glad they do because I have a steady income,” said James Sobol.

The pandemic changed how it worked, but not the mission behind it.

“It’s needed in this church. There are a lot of people who really need it. You know, they come through every year, ”said Beverly Lacoe.

And many said that while otherwise, they would never miss this Thanksgiving tradition for 45 straight years.

“Sister Adrian started with 25 people, that was something,” said Lacoe.

“Sister Adrian’s main goal when she started doing this in 1976 was that community feeling and making sure people had someone to vacation with. So that has always been our trademark. It’s what we miss most. We hope really to get it back next year. We’re just doing our best if we take the circumstances into account, “said Meghan Loftus of Friends of the Poor.

This year is the biggest so far. Friends of the Poor planned to hand out 3,500 dinners. More than 1,000 of these were delivered to low-income residential facilities and senior high-rises.

“We ran out of food last year so we’re trying to make sure we’re prepared for more. We’re worried we’ll run out of food because the need is still so great,” Loftus said.

“Scranton has always had a big heart, you know, that’s a lot,” said Jack Brennan.

The recipients told us they were grateful. Friends of the poor have still done this. Thanksgiving dinner for more than 3,000 is no easy task.

“There are so many people out there who have nothing,” said Al Aukscunas. “I think it’s great. I really do.”