Sometimes, a restaurant meal is out of the question. Sometimes, it’s not about where someone should go, it’s about where they can go. According to the Oregon Food Bank, 552,900 Oregonians are food insecure, about 1 in 9 Oregonians — that makes dinner anywhere on the heatmap or the 38 exceedingly difficult. And for many, the embarrassment surrounding hunger keeps them from seeking a meal, the feeling that there is always someone hungrier, or someone more worthy. In certain situations, the requirements to get a free meal are a road block, keeping someone hungry from eating — a pet, no proof of income, an address outside the designated range.
Still, there are places throughout the city that feed people in need without barriers: no religious specifications, no income requirements, no need for a government-issued ID or an address. The list below includes a number of free meals available in Portland, from early morning mid-week breakfasts to big elaborate Sunday dinners. There are meals served under a bridge, in bars, in community centers and cafes. There are meals of french toast and grilled chicken and nachos. And they’re served by Portlanders, chefs and neighbors and seniors and teenagers.
This list doesn’t include religiously affiliated kitchens, though there are quite a few — for a more complete map of meals and grocery services, check out the Oregon Food Bank search engine. Please send any suggested free meal services to our tip line for future updates.
Blanchet House of Hospitality
Address: 310 NW Glisan Street
The gist: Since 1952, Blanchett House has served meals to the hungry, and the tradition continues today. The kitchen serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner Monday through Saturday; meals have included everything from sandwiches to grilled chicken with marinated artichoke hearts
Any restrictions? None
Time frame: Breakfast from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 a.m., lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., and dinner from 5:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Sisters of the Road Cafe
Address: 133 NW Sixth Avenue
The gist: Sisters of the Road is not the average soup kitchen — instead, customers make a reservation, have their meal, and can pay the $1.25 cost of entrees like french toast, black bean soup, and corn chowder with EBT, cash, or bartered work. The first meal is always free, as are any meals for families with children. The cost of an entree and a drink is covered by only 15 minutes of volunteering, and can be earned in bulk with longer jobs.
Any restrictions? Visitors must make a reservation in person to get a meal, excluding families with children.
Time frame: Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Potluck in the Park
Address: In Waterfront Park, under the Hawthorne Bridge on the west side through the winter
The gist: Every Sunday, volunteers serve meals for both people and pets in need every Sunday, when some service centers are closed. Serving food outside is often helpful for people who can’t enter certain facilities because of their pets or other restrictions.
Any restrictions? Meals are available to anyone in need
Time frame: Sundays from 3 to 5 p.m.
Clackamas Service Center
Address: 8800 SE 80th Avenue
The gist: This service center serves lunch from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays, as well as dinner Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. The center also provides a food market on Mondays from 4 to 6 p.m.
Any restrictions? None
Time frame: Lunch from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays, dinner on Wednesday from 5 to 6 p.m., Friday from 7 to 9 p.m., Saturday from 5 to 7 p.m., and Sunday from 3 to 4 p.m.
Feed the Hungry Inc.
Address: 2036 SE Jefferson in Milwaukie
The gist: Since 1991, this non-denominational group has served a Sunday meal to the community in Milwaukie. Dishes range from spaghetti to nachos.
Any restrictions? None
Time frame: Sunday meal is from 2:15 to 3 p.m. Doors open at 12:30 p.m.
Shift Drinks’ Sunday Supper
Address: 1200 Southwest Morrison Street
The gist: On Sundays through the winter and spring, the downtown bar Shift Drinks serves a free meal to anyone interested, ranging from tortilla soup to macaroni and cheese.
Any restrictions? Shift Drinks is a bar, so it’s open to those 21 and over
Time frame: Service starts at 5 p.m. and is served until it runs out
Prost’s Thanksgiving Meal
Address: 4237 N Mississippi Avenue
The gist: Every Thanksgiving, Prost serves a free Thanksgiving meal at its Mississippi pub, with turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and other sides.
Any restrictions? None, though those who can are encouraged to donate or bring a side dish
Time frame: Thanksgiving day, starting at 6 p.m.